American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons
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Effect of COVID-19 Restrictions on 2021 Integrated Plastic Surgery Match Outcomes
Katie G Egan, MD1; Allison Nauta, MD2; James A Butterworth, MD1
1University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS, USA, 2Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR, USA

Background: Due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic (COVID-19), guidelines regarding both elimination of visiting subinternships and substitution of virtual interviews for the 2021 match were adapted. We hypothesize that these changes will result in an increase in home institution match rates compared to previous years.
Methods: Program match data was obtained using information posted to residency program Instagram pages and the hashtag #PRSMatch2021. Medical school regions were categorized as West, Midwest, South, and Northeast and compared to match program region. Applicants who successfully matched from a medical school with an associated plastic surgery residency program or from a 2021 Top 40 US News and World Report Medical School Rankings for Research and National Institute of Health funding were recorded. Chi square was used to assess differences between groups.
Results: A total of 181/187 (96.8%) integrated plastic surgery matched candidates were identified. Compared to historical controls, there was a statistically significant increase in the home match rate (24.3% vs 15.1%, p=.004) and statistically significant decrease in match rate for students without a home plastic surgery program (23.3% vs 30.5%, p=.004). Similar to prior years, applicants were more likely to match in their own region for all regions (p<.001); however, there was a statistical increase in students staying in the South region for residency compared to previous years (p=.007). The majority of applicants from Top 40 medical schools matched at Top 40 programs (62%, 62/100), compared to 21% of applicants graduating from other medical schools or international programs matching at Top 40 programs (17/81). See Table for comparisons.
Conclusion: The 2021 match cycle resulted in an increase in home program match rates, while decreasing match rates among students without a home plastic surgery program. COVID-19 polices may have resulted in disadvantages to students from diverse institutional backgrounds. Influences of virtual subinternships and virtual interviews should be further evaluated. Although short-term costs may be substantial to medical students, long-term benefits of resuming away subinternships and increasing diversity in plastic surgery trainees likely warrants safe resumption of in-person interactions when safely allowed.

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