OBJECTIVE: As orthopedic surgery residency programs are becoming more competitive, medical students interested in orthopedics are increasingly completing "year-out" programs. This study sought to evaluate student and faculty perceptions of these programs.
DESIGN: A survey evaluating baseline characteristics was disseminated to directors of year-out programs identified through postings on the orthopedics forum, Orthogate.org. A second survey was sent to all program directors (PDs) of accredited US orthopedic residencies, while a final survey was distributed to participants identified by year-out PDs.
SETTING: Ninety-six orthopedic year-out programs at 56 institutions were contacted.
PARTICIPANTS: Twenty-six year-out programs, 72 PDs of ACGME-accredited orthopedic residencies, and 34 year-out participants from 6 programs completed our questionnaires.
RESULTS: 73.1% (19) year-out program provided funding to participants, averaging $30,368. 84.6% (22) reported >75% match rates into orthopedics for participants. 65.4% (17) of programs selected students between their MS3/MS4 school years. 4.2% (3) of residency PDs agreed or strongly agreed that year-out programs were important factors for consideration in residency programs, compared with 82.4% (28) of year-out participants and 69.2% (18) of year-out PDs (p < 0.001). 58.8% (2) of year-out participants cited completion of a year-out for improving the chance of matching into any orthopedic residency, while 85.3% (29) wanted to be more competitive for top programs. The average Step 1 score was 248, which was insignificantly different from the national average for matched orthopedic applicants.
CONCLUSIONS: Orthopedic year-out programs have dramatically increased in number over the last 20 years. Most of these programs are funded, 1-year clinical research fellowships with relative match success for participants pursuing orthopedic residencies. While year-out PDs and students consider participation in such programs to be an important factor for residency applications, and often participate in them in order to improve their competitiveness for matching at desired programs, residency PDs overall hold different views.
Keywords: Interpersonal and Communication Skills Medical Knowledge Orthopedic surgery Professionalism Residency Residency applications Year-out fellowship Year-out program