Michael S. Ryan,Virginia Commonwealth University,Richmond,VA,Leonard J. Levine,Drexel University College of Medicine,Philadelphia,PA,Jorie M. Colbert-Getz,University of Utah,Salt Lake City,UT,Nancy D. Spector,Drexel University College of Medicine,Philadelphia,PA,H B. Fromme,University of Chicago,Chicago,IL
Background: An effective career advisor serves as an invaluable resource for his/her advisee’s personal growth,1,2 career development,3-5 and successful match into a residency training program6. In pediatrics, the clerkship director (CD) is often called upon to serve as an advisor9,10 for students in the increasingly competitive landscape of the National Residency Match Program (NRMP). To date, no studies have attempted to characterize the perspective of CDs in their advising capacities.
Research Question: What perspectives inform pediatrics CDs who advise students applying to pediatrics residency training programs?
Methods: We developed a survey based on previous studies and data from the NRMP’s annual Program Director survey (NRMP-PD) and disseminated it as part of the 2013 COMSEP annual survey. Topics included CDs’ role in advising, perspectives on applicants’ and programs’ competitiveness, and resources used to inform advising practice. This survey was pilot-tested with nine medical educators representing six U.S. medical schools.
Results: CDs from 63 (45%) LCME accredited medical schools responded. All CDs had some advising role in the residency application process, and the majority (73%) served in a formal advising capacity. Although 34% of respondents lacked confidence in their advising for the Match, CDs’ perspectives on applicant competitiveness were similar to those reported by PDs in the most recent NRMP-PD survey. Despite the similarities, few CDs (25%) reported using NRMP-PD survey data to inform their advising practice, and the most common resources utilized were subjective in nature. CDs viewed several modifiable attributes (e.g. reputation, student experience) as the main drivers of program-level competitiveness.
Discussion: The results of this study confirm the role of CDs in advising while providing important implications for various stakeholders. For students, the similarity between CD and PD perspectives highlights the common perception of what makes an applicant competitive for pediatrics residency. For PDs, this data provides insight on potentially modifiable factors to improve the attractiveness of their respective programs. Finally, the observation that CDs use subjective resources provides an opportunity for a COMSEP and APPD collaboration to develop an advising “toolbox” to promote more objective advising practices.