American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons
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Routes to residency: A survey-based exploration of the diverse pathways taken to become a plastic surgeon
Jenna R. Stoehr, BA1; Sarah A. Applebaum, MD, MS1,2; Jason H. Ko, MD, MBA1; Arun K. Gosain, MD1,2
1Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL. 2Ann & Robert H. Lurie Childrens Hospital of Chicago, Chicago, IL.

Background: As plastic and reconstructive surgery (PRS) residency can be completed through either an integrated or an independent pathway, current PRS residents take variable training routes to become plastic surgeons. The present study explores the routes taken by current PRS residents, with a focus on residents who were unsuccessful in their initial efforts to match into an integrated residency in PRS.
Methods: A survey of integrated and independent PRS residents collected information about residentsí academic and match history, experience after not matching (if applicable), and their thoughts on their route to residency. Publicly available NRMP match data from the past twenty years (2001-2021) were also aggregated and summarized.
Results: One hundred thirty-three respondents applied to integrated PRS programs as senior medical students, and 15 of them (11%) did not match after applying as a senior medical student. These unmatched applicants took multiple routes to PRS, including participating in the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program, reapplying in another cycle, transferring after completing some general surgery training, and applying to independent PRS residency after completing general surgery residency. Narrative responses included themes of positive applicant characteristics, barriers to success, and the importance of relationships in the successful match process.
Conclusion: An initial unsuccessful match result does not portend that one will not be able to train for a career in PRS. Our findings illustrate some of the potential routes to successful entry into a PRS residency program.


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