Objective: The authors sought to compare categorical general surgery applicants with applicants in other specialties regarding their final specialty-choice ranking for residency positions. Method: The authors analyzed the 2004-match year applicant-pool data from the Electronic Residency Application Service and Common Application Service as well as rank-list data from the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), the Urology Match Program, and the San Francisco Matching Program for 20 different specialties. Two-tailed chi-square tests measured differences between the proportions of applicants who ultimately ranked programs in categorical general surgery and each of 19 other specialties and between the proportions of U.S. students who ranked categorical general surgery and each of 19 other specialties as a non-preferred choice. A Bonferroni-adjusted alpha was set at 0.0013 to reduce the likelihood of a type I error. Results: The proportion of applicants ranking each specialty ranged from 42% (786/1859) in pathology to 91% (282/31l) in neurological surgery. The proportion of categorical general surgery applicants ranking categorical general surgery programs was 51% (2004/3900), which was significantly lower than the proportions ranking 12 of 19 other specialties (each p <0.001). Of the 2004 categorical general surgery applicants ranking categorical general surgery programs, 278 (278/2004, 14%) ranked categorical general surgery as a non-preferred specialty. Among 1230 U.S. students ranking categorical general surgery programs, 144 (12%) did so as a non-preferred specialty-a proportion significantly higher compared with U.S. students ranking 15 of 19 other specialties as non-preferred (each p < 0.001). Conclusions: In 2004, the categorical general surgery applicant pool was relatively uncommitted to the specialty of general surgery. The number of applicants ranking categorical general surgery as a non-preferred specialty was likely even higher than these data indicate, as unmatched applicants in non-NRMP matches who then ranked categorical general surgery programs in the NRMP were tabulated by the NRMP as having ranked categorical general surgery as their preferred specialty.
- Graduate medical education
- Medical residency
- Surgical specialties
- Undergraduate medical education