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Background: Pediatric orthopaedic surgery is a competitive orthopaedic subspecialty that has seen a rise in the number of applications submitted per applicant over the past decade. Surveys of fellowship program directors in other orthopaedic subspecialties including orthopaedic trauma, spine, sports medicine, and hip and knee arthroplasty have demonstrated differing opinions regarding the factors considered most important when ranking applicants. The selection criteria considered most important by pediatric orthopaedic surgery fellowship program directors have not yet been evaluated.
Methods: A web-based questionnaire was sent to the program directors of all pediatric orthopaedic surgery fellowship programs that participate in the San Francisco (SF) Match program. In addition to providing information about program size, number of applicants interviewed, and number of applicants ranked, program directors were presented with 12 selection criteria based on previous surveys of orthopaedic fellowship directors and were asked to rank them in order of importance. A weighted score for each selection criteria was calculated using the following scale: 5 points for each criterion ranked 1st, 4 points for 2nd, 3 points for 3rd, 2 points for 4th, and 1 point for 5th. The total weighted score of each criterion was calculated.
Results: Of the 45 program directors that we contacted, 36 responded (80% response rate). A plurality of programs both interviewed and ranked between 16 and 20 applicants. The interview and letters of recommendation were the most important selection criteria according to program directors. Other selection criteria deemed important included the applicant’s residency program, personal connections, and life experience.
Conclusions: Pediatric orthopaedic surgery fellowship program directors consider the interview, letters of recommendation, and the applicant’s residency program to be the most important factors when ranking fellowship candidates. These findings may be useful to orthopaedic residents interested in pursuing fellowship training in pediatric orthopaedic surgery by providing applicants with a better understanding of which areas to focus on when preparing for the fellowship interview and subsequent match process.