BackTable / ENT / Podcast / Episode #94
What’s New in the ENT Residency Match Process?
with Dr. Sarah Bowe
In this episode of BackTable ENT, Dr. Gopi Shah, Dr. Ashley Agan, and Dr. Sarah Bowe discuss new developments in the ENT residency match process as well as advice for future applicants.
BackTable, LLC (Producer). (2023, March 7). Ep. 94 – What’s New in the ENT Residency Match Process? [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from https://www.backtable.com
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Dr. Sarah Bowe
Dr. Sarah Bowe is the director of pediatric otolaryngology of the Defense Health Agency and an associate professor with USU in San Antonio, Texas.
Dr. Ashley Agan
Dr. Ashley Agan is a practicing ENT and assistant professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, TX.
Dr. Gopi Shah
Dr. Gopi Shah is a practicing ENT at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, TX.
First, the doctors explain new policies in the match process. In 2015, the merging of osteopathic and allopathic accreditation systems began, which led to a single accreditation system combining osteopathic and allopathic accreditation in 2021. In 2022, the USMLE Step 1 exam switched to a pass/fail system from a numerical scoring system. The doctors note that although Step 1 scores used to be an application filter, research has shown that there is no correlation between scores and success during residency. Dr. Bowe notes that many programs deemed it necessary to filter using Step 1 scores because residency applications take a long time to read through. Additionally, standardized test scores do correlate well with board passage rates. Dr. Agan mentions that programs may use Step 2 scores as a replacement for Step 1 scores, leading some applicants to feel conflicted about having a Step 2 score before submitting their ERAS application. However, there have not been set Step 2 metrics for filtering applicants yet.
Next, the doctors discuss reading through applications from a program perspective. Dr. Bowe explains that bigger programs have bigger faculty, which means more application readers are available. Some programs will set unique filters to screen for IMG applicants or career goals. Then, she discusses the use of the new signaling program, an initiative that distributes applicants a certain number of tokens to indicate their programs of interest. Signaling can equalize the playing field for applicants who do not have a home ENT program or do not have the resources to do as many sub-internship and away rotations as they would like. Additionally, signaling may serve as a surrogate application cap for programs.
Finally, the doctors explain other parts of the residency application, such as letters of recommendation, research, and gap years. Because almost every ENT applicant is listed as “above average” on the standardized application, Dr. Bowe emphasizes the importance of the narrative sections of letters. Additionally, many programs allow additional space on the application to let students explain more about their background and hardships. Dr. Bowe concedes that research is important on an application, but it depends on the resources of each applicant’s home institutions as well as their non-academic priorities, like part-time jobs. Additionally, in her opinion, a gap year to do research should only be taken if the applicant is aspiring to be a clinician scientist. Dr. Shah emphasizes the importance of taking a gap year because of personal interest, not for a stronger application. Finally, Dr. Agan speaks about differences between in-person and virtual interviews. There are cons of virtual interviews, such as interview hoarding and lack of interpersonal and environmental connection, but benefits include lowering expenses and environmental impact.
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