Factors related to attrition in surgery residency based on application data

Rebekah A. Naylor, Joan S. Reisch, R. James Valentine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine whether variables in the surgery resident selection process will predict attrition or performance during residency training. Design: Retrospective study. Setting: A university residency program. Participants: A total of 111 categorical surgery residents matched during a 10-year period (1991-2000). Main Outcome Measures: Satisfactory outcome included successful completion of training and the American Board of Surgery examinations on the first attempt. Participants with a satisfactory outcome were stratified into good or marginal performance based on adverse actions during residency. Results: Of 111 residents studied, 28 (25.2%) had an unsatisfactory outcome; attrition occurred in 25 (22.5%). Univariate analysis identified the following variables as predictors of unsatisfactory outcome: age at entry older than 29 years (P=.005), female sex (P=.02), courses repeated (P=.01), "C" grades on transcript (P=.01), no participation in team sports (P=.02), and lack of superlative comments in the dean's letter (P=.03). The following variables were retained in the multivariate model: age older than 29 years (odds ratio [OR], 0.11; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.02-0.47; P=.003), summary comments in the dean's letter (OR, 4.57; 95% CI, 2.00-10.43; P<.001), participation in team sports (OR, 4.96; 95% CI, 1.36-18.05; P=.02), and merit scholarship in medical school (OR, 0.25; 95% CI, 0.08-0.78; P=.02). Conclusions: Attrition can be predicted from factors identified on residency applications, with nonacademic factors being more important. Among residents who completed the program, no predictors of performance were identified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)647-651
Number of pages5
JournalArchives of Surgery
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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