Medliorate

Improving medical students

Residency Switching – Prevalence and Methods

Posted by medliorator on April 21, 2010

by Elizabeth Losada, MD @SDN…

Anecdotally it is said that as many as ten percent of all residents switch specialties each year.

Studies looking at resident attrition rates have yielded some data on specialty switching among residents.  Attrition rates account for all residents who leave residency programs, not just those who change specialties.  This includes residents who leave medicine completely and those who switch to another program within the same specialty.  A study of Ob-Gyn resident attrition by McAlister et al. in 2008 (1) noted 2004-2005 ACGME reported annual resident attrition rates of 5.8% in Surgery, 5.1% in Ob-Gyn, 4.7% in Family Medicine, and 2.1% in Internal Medicine.  Of 1055 categorical Ob-Gyn residents who entered programs in 2001, 21% (228 residents) had left their original program after four years and were categorized in the attrition group.  Within the attrition group 33% (75 residents) switched specialties and 39% (29 residents) moved to primary care residencies.

Longo et al. (2) examined resident attrition from a general surgery residency program over a 20-year period and found a 30% attrition rate.  Of the 30 residents who did not complete their training at the program, 63% (19 residents) switched to other specialties, including plastic surgery and medicine most commonly.  The most common reasons cited for leaving the program included “lifestyle” and “passion for another specialty.”

How one goes about finding a new residency position varies, depending on the type of switch being made.  For some residents, especially those who decide to switch early on or who are switching to a field that is drastically different from their current specialty, the easiest way to switch may be to re-enter the match.  Going through the match again provides the most options for finding a new first-year position.  For residents who have completed training that may count towards the requirements for another field, looking for a position outside the match may make the most sense.  Simply calling area programs to ask about openings has been successful for some residents.  Additionally, several websites (see below) offer notification of off-cycle positions and application services.

Switching Specialties [SDN]

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