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Application Data Hints at Surgical Residency Completion

Non-academic factors on residency applications can pinpoint risk of attrition

TUESDAY, July 22 (HealthDay News) -- The likelihood that surgical residents will fall by the wayside can be predicted from factors on their residency applications, with non-academic factors the most important, according to a paper published in the July issue of the Archives of Surgery.

Rebekah A. Naylor, M.D., of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, and colleagues conducted a study of 111 surgical residents to determine what factors were associated with failure to complete training and become American Board of Surgery certified at the first attempt.

There were 28 residents who did not achieve a satisfactory outcome and 25 left residency, giving an attrition rate of 22.5 percent, the researchers report. Predictors of unsatisfactory outcome were age above 29 years at entry, female sex, repeating courses, transcripts with "C" grades, a dean's letter lacking superlatives and no team sport participation, the report indicates.

"Social and demographic factors may be more important factors related to outcome for surgery residents than traditional markers of academic achievement in medical school," the authors write. "Negative factors included age older than 29 years and having a merit scholarship in medical school. Identification of these factors may affect selection or mandate early intervention. In residents who had a successful outcome, no variables were associated with overall performance in the residency."

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