BACKGROUND: Integrated plastic surgery residency training is growing in popularity, bringing new challenges to program directors and applicants. The purpose of this study was to identify characteristics of successful applicants and to obtain feedback from applicants to improve the integrated plastic surgery residency training application and interview process. METHODS: An anonymous survey assessing applicant academic qualifications, number of interviews offered and attended, and opinions about the application and interview process was distributed electronically to the 2006 integrated plastic surgery residency training applicant class. The number of interviews offered was used as an indicator of potential applicant success. RESULTS: A 38 percent survey participation rate (139 of 367) was achieved. United States Medical Licensing Examination Step 1 score correlated with number of interview invitations (p ≤ 0.001). Successful Alpha Omega Alpha designation (p ≤ 0.001), high class rank (p = 0.034), presence of a plastic surgery residency program at the participant's school (p = 0.026), and authorship of one or more publications (p ≤ 0.001) were associated with receiving greater number of interview invitations. Geographic location was an important consideration for applicants when applying to and ranking programs. Applicants desired interviews on weekdays and geographic coordination of interviews. CONCLUSIONS: Integrated plastic surgery residency training is highly competitive, with the number of interview invitations correlating with academic performance and, to a lesser extent, research. Applicant feedback from this survey can be used to improve the application and interview process.
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