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imageObjective
Securing a residency training position in plastic surgery is highly competitive each year with a limited quota of positions and numerous qualified applicants. Although previous studies have highlighted the importance of residency programs and applicants seeking a “good fit,” it remains poorly understood what influences a medical student’s impression and desire to train at a certain program over others. The objective of this cross-sectional study was to identify which specific potentially modifiable factors during elective rotations and program interviews were most important to Canadian medical students when ranking plastic surgery programs.
Methods
An electronic survey with 42 questions was administered to Canadian final year medical students who applied through the 2017 Canadian Residency Match Service to the plastic surgery training program at the University of Toronto. The survey consisted of 7-point Likert scale questions related to demographics, general factors affecting impression of a plastic surgery program, and specific factors related to the elective and interview experiences. Survey responses were collected anonymously for analysis.
Results
Twenty-three of 46 applicants completed the survey (50% response rate). The most important general factors affecting a medical student’s impression and desire to train at a residency program were mentors at a specific program (weighted average, 6.39) and geographic location of a program (weighted average, 5.65). During elective rotations, the most important factors identified were overall impression of resident and staff collegiality (weighted average, 6.57), overall impression of resident happiness (weighted average, 6.52), and having a formal rotation-end debrief evaluation with the supervising staff (weighted average, 6.04). At program interviews, perceiving an atmosphere of collegiality (weighted average, 6.45) and opportunities to interact with residents and faculty at an organized social event (weighted average, 5.95) were considered of greatest importance.
Conclusions
Current applicants to plastic surgery in Canada prioritize resident happiness, program collegiality, and meaningful faculty relationships, such as those with a mentor, when ranking residency programs. Although finding a mutually “good fit” between applicant and program will remain a major aim, these findings indicate the importance of certain tangible, potentially modifiable factors that affect how medical students ultimately perceive and rank plastic surgery programs.

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