Original Research

Characteristics of Matched vs Nonmatched Dermatology Applicants

Author and Disclosure Information

Dermatology residency continues to be one of the most competitive specialties, with a match rate of 84.7% in 2019. We surveyed 475 dermatology applicants who applied to the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, during the 2018-2019 application cycle and 629 dermatology applicants who applied to the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale; Rochester, Minnesota; and Jacksonville, Florida, during the 2019-2020 application cycle. The initial survey obtained application and demographic information. The follow-up survey obtained match data. The initial 2019 and 2020 surveys were completed by 149 and 142 dermatology applicants, respectively, and 112 and 124 applicants completed the respective follow-up surveys. Our survey finds that factors associated with matching included a higher US Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1 score, having a home dermatology program, and a higher number of interviews offered and attended. Some demographics had varying USMLE Step 1 scores but similar match rates.

PRACTICE POINTS

  • Dermatology residency continues to be one of the most competitive specialties, with a match rate of 84.7% in 2019.
  • A high US Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1 score and having a home dermatology program and a greater number of interviews may lead to higher likeliness of matching in dermatology.
  • Most applicants (82.4%) applied to programs their partner had interviews at, suggesting this may be a helpful strategy.


 

References

Dermatology residency continues to be one of the most competitive specialties, with a match rate of 84.7% for US allopathic seniors in the 2019-2020 academic year.1 In the 2019-2020 cycle, dermatology applicants were tied with plastic surgery for the highest median US Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1 score compared with other specialties, which suggests that the top medical students are applying, yet only approximately 5 of 6 students are matching.

Factors that have been cited with successful dermatology matching include USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) scores,2 research accomplishments,3 letters of recommendation,4 medical school performance, personal statement, grades in required clerkships, and volunteer/extracurricular experiences, among others.5

The National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) publishes data each year regarding different academic factors—USMLE scores; number of abstracts, presentations, and papers; work, volunteer, and research experiences—and compares the mean between matched and nonmatched applicants.1 However, the USMLE does not report any demographic information of the applicants and the implication it has for matching. Additionally, the number of couples participating in the couples match continues to increase each year. In the 2019-2020 cycle, 1224 couples participated in the couples match.1 However, NRMP reports only limited data regarding the couples match, and it is not specialty specific.

We aimed to determine the characteristics of matched vs nonmatched dermatology applicants. Secondarily, we aimed to determine any differences among demographics regarding matching rates, academic performance, and research publications. We also aimed to characterize the strategy and outcomes of applicants that couples matched.

Materials and Methods

The Mayo Clinic institutional review board deemed this study exempt. All applicants who applied to Mayo Clinic dermatology residency in Scottsdale, Arizona, during the 2018-2019 cycle were emailed an initial survey (N=475) before Match Day that obtained demographic information, geographic information, gap-year information, USMLE Step 1 score, publications, medical school grades, number of away rotations, and number of interviews. A follow-up survey gathering match data and couples matching data was sent to the applicants who completed the first survey on Match Day. The survey was repeated for the 2019-2020 cycle. In the second survey, Step 2 CK data were obtained. The survey was sent to 629 applicants who applied to Mayo Clinic dermatology residencies in Arizona, Minnesota, and Florida to include a broader group of applicants. For publications, applicants were asked to count only published or accepted manuscripts, not abstracts, posters, conference presentations, or submitted manuscripts. Applicants who did not respond to the second survey (match data) were not included in that part of the analysis. One survey was excluded because of implausible answers (eg, scores outside of range for USMLE Step scores).

Statistical Analysis—For statistical analyses, the applicants from both applications cycles were combined. Descriptive statistics were reported in the form of mean, median, or counts (percentages), as applicable. Means were compared using 2-sided t tests. Group comparisons were examined using χ2 tests for categorical variables. Statistical analyses were performed using the BlueSky Statistics version 6.30. P<.05 was considered significant.

Results

In 2019, a total of 149 applicants completed the initial survey (31.4% response rate), and 112 completed the follow-up survey (75.2% response rate). In 2020, a total of 142 applicants completed the initial survey (22.6% response rate), and 124 completed the follow-up survey (87.3% response rate). Combining the 2 years, after removing 1 survey with implausible answers, there were 290 respondents from the initial survey and 235 from the follow-up survey. The median (SD) age for the total applicants over both years was 27 (3.0) years, and 180 applicants were female (61.9%).

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