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Matching into Integrated Plastic Surgery: The Value of Research Fellowships

Rajesh, Aashish M.B.B.S.; Asaad, Malke M.D.; Nashed, Mohammad; Vyas, Krishna M.D., Ph.D., M.H.S.

Author Information
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: November 2019 - Volume 144 - Issue 5 - p 946e-947e
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000006138
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We read with great interest the article entitled “Matching into Integrated Plastic Surgery: The Value of Research Fellowships.”1 The authors elucidated the value of a research fellowship for applicants to this competitive specialty.

The authors’ results showed that 50 respondents completed a “research fellowship before residency.” The results shown in Table 2 encompass the entire respondent pool of 198 applicants. We wonder whether the 148 candidates who did not pursue research fellowship before residency partook in research activity in tandem with their medical school years. In this case, it would be interesting to understand the differences in research output between these two groups, and this would further support the authors’ emphasis of the value of dedicated research fellowships.

American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons members whom the authors surveyed considered three to four publications as productive (51 percent of respondents). The number of first-author publications would add great value to the authors’ results. First authorship is an important metric in assessing research productivity, as this requires more time and commitment and typically demonstrates contribution along the research continuum from study conception and design to publication. In addition, three to four or five to six conference presentations were considered productive by the majority of respondents. It would be interesting to determine whether the type of meeting (e.g., local, national, international) and presentation (poster versus oral) influences American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons members’ consideration of applicants, because conferences have varying rates of acceptance.

The authors studied the importance of research fellowships for applicants to integrated plastic surgery residency. However, some of the responding American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons members were part of independent residency programs. Although the authors acknowledged the limitation of not having separate results for these two groups, having faculty from independent programs evaluate medical students applying for an integrated residency might confound the results, as their respective criteria for applicant selection may differ. The expected research productivity of a resident applying to plastic surgery as a fellowship might be different than that expected from a medical student. Similarly, the authors’ results may not be generalizable to general surgery residents applying to independent plastic surgery programs.

Furthermore, the authors’ results report that 63 percent of American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons members do not actively encourage a research year. For some applicants, including international medical graduates or those who decide to pursue integrated plastic surgery late in medical school, a research fellowship may be essential.

The importance of research experiences and publications among applicants matching into plastic surgery residency has risen over the years.2–5 Given this trend, we appreciate the authors’ efforts in shedding light on the value of research fellowships in matching into integrated plastic surgery residency.


The authors have no financial interest to declare in relation to the content of this communication.

Aashish Rajesh, M.B.B.S.
Department of Surgery
Mayo Clinic
Rochester, Minn.

Malke Asaad, M.D.
Division of Plastic Surgery
Mayo Clinic
Rochester, Minn.

Mohammad Nashed
Aleppo University
Faculty of Medicine
Aleppo, Syria

Krishna Vyas, M.D., Ph.D., M.H.S.
Division of Plastic Surgery
Mayo Clinic
Rochester, Minn.


1. Mehta K, Sinno S, Thanik V, Weichman K, Janis JE, Patel A. Matching into integrated plastic surgery: The value of research fellowships. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2019;143:640–645.
2. Janis JE, Hatef DA. Resident selection protocols in plastic surgery: A national survey of plastic surgery program directors. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2008;122:1929–1939; discussion 1940–1941.
3. Andry D, Moliver C, Phillips LG. An analysis of female plastic surgery authorship: Where are we today? Plast Reconstr Surg. 2019;143:327–331.
4. Tadisina KK, Orra S, Bassiri Gharb B, Kwiecien G, Bernard S, Zins JE. Applying to integrated plastic surgery residency programs: Trends in the past 5 years of the Match. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2016;137:1344–1353.
5. Silvestre J, Serletti JM, Chang B. Trends in Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education accreditation for subspecialty fellowship training in plastic surgery. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2018;141:768e–774e.


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