Alternatives to USMLE Step 1 for Plastic Surgery Residency Applicants
Malke Asaad, MD1; Brian C. Drolet, MD, FACS2; Jeffrey E. Janis, MD, FACS3; Janice Lalikos, MD4; Giorgio Giatsidis, MD, PhD4
1Department of Plastic Surgery, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, 2Department of Plastic Surgery, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN, 3Department of Plastic Surgery, the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Columbus, OH, 4Division of Plastic Surgery, University of Massachusetts, Worcester, MA
Background: The change of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1 to a pass/fail reporting will have significant ramifications on how applicants are evaluated. In this study, we aimed to further explore the factors that would assume importance following the change in the reporting pattern for Step 1
Methods: A survey-based cross-sectional study of United States (US) integrated plastic surgery program directors (PSPDs) was conducted. PSPDs were asked about the importance of different factors for selecting applicants to receive an interview following the change in the reporting pattern
Results: A total of 18 PSPDs responded to our survey (22% response rate). Eighty-three percent of respondents were strongly dissatisfied with the conversion to pass/fail reporting. Letters of recommendation (LOR’s) received the highest ranking (median,1; IQR,1-2) as the component used for offering away rotations after the implementation of the pass/fail reporting, followed by the applicant’s medical school (median, 3; IQR, 3-4), and grades obtained during medical school (median,3; IQR,1.75-4). Respondents reported that personal prior knowledge of the applicant, LORs, Step 2 CK scores, and away rotation at the institution of interest would become the most important factors (median ratings of 5, 4.5, 4.5, 4.5, respectively on a 5-point Likert scale) for selecting applicants to receive an interview. Forty-four percent would consider the implementation of standardized assessments to evaluate applicants’ skills following the new score reporting
Conclusion: Following the pass/fail reporting, applicant familiarity will be the most important factor in inviting applicants for an interview in addition to Step 2 CK, LORs, and away rotation at the institution of interest. Standardized assessments of applicants’ skills are needed and welcomed by PSPDs.
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