Characteristics of the applicant pool to vascular surgery residency programs

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Vascular Surgery








Objective: Based on the significant number of unfilled vascular fellowship positions in the 2004 National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) and the perception of program directors that the quality of candidates is deteriorating, the Issues Committee of the Association of Program Directors in Vascular Surgery (APDVS) explored the characteristics and the trend of the applicant pool to develop recommendations for improvement. Methods: The Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) database was queried for the total number of applicants, medical school, gender, and age, among other characteristics. The vascular surgery applicant pool was compared to the applicant pool for general surgery; the applicant pool for all fellowship positions, including a variety of medical subspecialties; the applicant pool for all residency positions; and the applicant pool for colorectal surgery, the only other surgical subspecialty participating in ERAS in 2004. NRMP data was used prior to 2004. The χ 2 test was used for statistical analysis, with significance set at P < .05. Results: In the 2004 match for June 2005 positions, there were 100 applicants for 110 first-year vascular surgery positions in 90 programs. In 1989, there were 123 applicants for 56 positions in 49 programs. In 1989, 55% of vascular surgery applicants did not match; whereas in 2004, only 7% were unmatched. Although the overall number of vascular surgery applicants has remained relatively stable, the number of United States applicants has decreased from 89% in 1990 to 68% in 2004 (P < .01). There was a significant geographic variation: 34% of those in the applicant pool came from the state of New York, but 23 states did not contribute a single applicant to the pool. In addition, vascular surgery, like other fellowships, attracts fewer female applicants. Conclusions: The data from the ERAS database support the impression held by many in the vascular surgery education community that the size of the applicant pool for vascular surgery fellowship positions has remained stagnant, while the number of positions has significantly increased. Strategies to increase the size and quality of the applicant pool are needed. Copyright © 2005 by The Society for Vascular Surgery.

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