Friday, September 8, 2023

Signaling for Orthopaedic surgery residencies

 The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery reports a small survey about signaling behavior among applicants for orthopaedic surgery residencies.

Deckey, David G., Eugenia Lin, Coltin RB Gerhart, Joseph C. Brinkman, Karan A. Patel, and Joshua S. Bingham. "Decoding the Signals: An Analysis of Preference Signaling in the 2023 Orthopaedic Surgery Residency Match." JBJS Open Access 8, no. 3 (2023).

"While previously used in other specialties, the preference signaling program (PSP) was implemented in the 2022 to 2023 orthopaedic surgery residency application process for the first time. The PSP allowed for 30 signaling tokens to be sent by applicants to programs of their choice to indicate particular interest in a program.


"An anonymous electronic survey was emailed to all orthopaedic surgery residency applicants who applied to the authors' institution during the 2022 to 2023 application cycle. The survey was sent after match lists were submitted and closed before the release of match results. 


"The survey was completed by 101 applicants. Applicants applied to a mean of 90 programs (range: 10-197) and received an average of 12 interview invitations (range: 0-39). Applicants almost uniformly used all 30 signals, with nearly two-thirds signaling their home programs (65%, 49/76), and nearly all applicants sending signals to programs at which they performed away rotations (95.7%, 88/92). Applicants received a mean of 9 invitations from programs they signaled, compared with 2 invitations from programs they did not signal."


Applicants report sending signals to all the programs that would have been expected to automatically give them interviews even in the absence of a signaling mechanism--namely their home programs and those which they have spent time visiting in 'away rotations.'

In the Economics job market, which may have been the first to introduce signaling, we limited applicants to 2 signals, and advised them not to signal jobs in which they already had well established mutual interests, i.e. not to signal jobs which they felt would interview them without signals. One of the ideas behind the Econ signaling mechanism is that there are many ways applicants can send signals of interest within a network to which they are well connected. Since some applicants are better connected than others, we were offering some signals that could be sent out of network.

It will be interesting to understand if signals to Ortho residencies are helping promote out of network interviews, or are largely strengthening the network connections already established by medical schools (home programs) and away rotations.

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