Critical Assessment of the Contemporary Orthopaedic Surgery Residency Application Process.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

BACKGROUND: Matching into orthopaedic surgery residency in the United States has become an increasingly competitive process because of the large number of well-qualified applicants. Over the past several years, applicants have sought to maximize their chances of matching by submitting an increasing number of applications. The purpose of this study was to assess trends in application numbers, applicant qualifications, and application reviews, with the goal of obtaining data to help inform future improvements in the orthopaedic surgery residency application process. METHODS: Applicant data were obtained from the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS, and the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP, These included residency application data from 2000 to 2017. In addition, we analyzed available NRMP Applicant Survey Reports between 2008 and 2017, Program Director Survey Reports between 2008 and 2016, and NRMP's Charting Outcomes in the Match between 2006 and 2016. RESULTS: The number of U.S. senior medical student applicants per orthopaedic surgery residency position was stable from 2000 to 2017 (1.13 vs. 1.16 for 2000 and 2017, respectively). A significant increase in the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step-1 and Step-2 scores and self-reported research activity was present over the same time period. The number of applications submitted per applicant significantly increased, by 71.7%, from 48.4 in 2006 to 83.1 in 2017. Additionally, applications per program increased 46.4% from 457 in 2010 to 669 in 2016. In 2010, programs performed in-depth reviews for 54% of applications; however, in 2016, in-depth reviews had decreased to 45% of applications. CONCLUSIONS: Orthopaedic residency applicant USMLE scores and research productivity have increased over time. Concurrently, the average number of applications submitted per applicant has increased, with the average applicant applying to nearly half of all orthopaedic residency programs. Consequently, programs have seen more than double the number of applications over this study period. The accompanying decline in the proportion of applications undergoing in-depth review, along with the applicant and program resources associated with these changes, warrants the development of strategies to enhance the efficiency of the application process for orthopaedic residency.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Li, NY; Gruppuso, PA; Kalagara, S; Eltorai, AEM; DePasse, JM; Daniels, AH

Published Date

  • November 6, 2019

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 101 / 21

Start / End Page

  • e114 -

PubMed ID

  • 31567662

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1535-1386

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.2106/JBJS.18.00587


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States