Recent Changes in Characteristics of Applicants and Matriculants to Thoracic Surgery Fellowships

      The match rate for traditional thoracic surgery fellowships decreased from 97.5% in 2012 to 59.1% in 2021, reflecting an increase in applications. We queried whether characteristics of applicants and matriculants to traditional thoracic surgery fellowships changed during this time period. Applicant data from the 2008 through 2018 application cycles were extracted from the Electronic Residency Application System (ERAS) and Graduate Medical Education (GME) Track Resident Survey and stratified by period of application (2008–2014 vs 2015–2018). Characteristics of applicants and matriculants were analyzed. There were 697 applicant records in the early period and 530 in the recent period (application rate 99.6/year vs 132.5/year; P = 0.0005), and 607 matriculant records in the early period and 383 in the recent period (matriculation rate 87% vs 72%; P < 0.0001). There was no difference in representation of university-affiliated versus community-based general surgery residency programs among applicants comparing the periods. Higher proportions of applicants and matriculants in the early period trained in general surgery programs affiliated with a comprehensive cancer center or a thoracic surgery fellowship. Applicants and matriculants of the recent period had higher median numbers of journal publications and had higher impact factor journal publications. The increase in applicants for thoracic surgery training is primarily from general surgery trainees in residency programs not affiliated with a comprehensive cancer center or a thoracic surgery fellowship. The increased interest in thoracic surgery training was accompanied by overall enhanced scholarship production among the applicants and matriculants regardless of their residency characteristics.

      Graphical Abstract



      AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges), ABSITE (American Board of Surgery In-Training Examination), ACGME (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education), AOA (Alpha Omega Alpha), ERAS (Electronic Residency Application System), GME (Graduate Medical Education), IF (impact factor), NCI-CCC (National Cancer Institute designated comprehensive cancer center), NRMP (National Resident Matching Program)
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      • Commentary: Our Field is Competitive Again: Quo Vadimus?
        Seminars in Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
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          A little over a decade ago, interest in thoracic surgery training seemed to have waned.1,2 This led to measures such as creation of the fast-track (4+3) and integrated (I-6) training pathways, as well as allowing integrated vascular surgery (I-5) graduates to pursue cardiothoracic surgery (CTS) fellowships.3 It appears that such efforts may have paid off as seen by the increased number of applicants in recent years. In contrast, the number of available positions is still on the decline,1,4 as is the pass rate of American Board of Thoracic Surgery (ABTS) examination.
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