Background: Internal medicine fellowship programs have an incentive to select fellows who will ultimately publish. Whether an applicant's publication record predicts long term publishing remains unknown. Methods: Using records of fellowship bound internal medicine residents, we analyzed whether publications at time of fellowship application predict publications more than 3 years (2 years into fellowship) and up to 7 years after fellowship match. We calculate the sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values and likelihood ratios for every cutoff number of application publications, and plot a receiver operator characteristic curve of this test. Results: Of 307 fellowship bound residents, 126 (41%) published at least one article 3 to 7 years after matching, and 181 (59%) of residents do not publish in this time period. The area under the receiver operator characteristic curve is 0.59. No cutoff value for application publications possessed adequate test characteristics. Conclusion: The number of publications an applicant has at time of fellowship application is a poor predictor of who publishes in the long term. These findings do not validate the practice of using application publications as a tool for selecting fellows.
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