Trying to Stand Out: Analysis of "Extracurricular" Activities Of Otolaryngology Residency Applicants
thesisposted on 2020-08-01, 00:00 authored by Lily Ha-Nam P Nguyen
Medical students strategically engage in extracurricular activities outside the formal curriculum to distinguish themselves from peers and improve their candidacy for a residency program. This study explores longitudinal characteristics and prevalence of these activities reported by applicants to competitive Canadian OTL-HNS residency across time. A retrospective, descriptive study was designed to review specific sections of the curriculum vitae of applicants to OTL-HNS programs in Canada. These sections were self-reported, and included research productivity, involvement in volunteer and leadership activities, membership in associations, and honours / awards granted. Analysis of the results relied on descriptive statistics. Between 2013 to 2017, a total of 267 applicants reported a median of 12.6 research publications, 9.6 volunteer activities, 6 leadership activities, 6 association memberships and 9.8 honours / awards. At least one applicant every year reported having over 46 publications, and over 32 honours/ awards. Applicants were younger over time, with proportions of applicants over 30 years old decreasing from 56% in 2013 to 9% in 2017. Medical students applying to Canadian OTL-HNS residency programs are reporting consistently high rates of extracurricular activities. As students pursue becoming the “ideal” candidate with unobtainable and unsustainable qualifications, residency selection committees have difficulty in differentiating between quality applicants. We urge key stakeholders to challenge and rethink the current application process, to broaden the selection criteria, and to adapt a more holistic assessment of medical students aligned with residency goals and expectations toward competency.