Orthopaedic Surgery Residency: Perspectives of Applicants and Program Directors on Medical Student Away Rotations

Seth W. O'Donnell, Brian C. Drolet, Jonathan P. Brower, Dawn LaPorte, Craig P. Eberson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Introduction: Senior medical students frequently rotate at orthopaedic residency programs away from their home medical schools. However, to our knowledge, the perspective of program directors (PDs) and applicants on the value, objectives, and costs of these rotations has not been studied. Methods: Surveys evaluating the frequency, costs, benefits, and objectives of away rotations were distributed to all orthopaedic residency PDs in the United States and applicants in the 2014-2015 Match cycle. Data analysis was conducted to perform inferential and descriptive statistics; comparisons were made between and among PD and applicant groups using two-tailed means Student t-test and analysis of variance. Results: A total of 74 PD (46.0%) and 524 applicant (49.3%) responses were obtained from a national distribution. Applicants completed an average of 2.4 away rotations, with an average cost of $2,799. When stratified on self-reported likelihood of Matching, there were no substantial differences in the total number of rotations performed. The only marked differences between these groups were the United States Medical Licensing Examination Step 1 score and the number of applications to residency programs. PDs reported that significantly fewer rotations should be allowed, whereas applicants suggested higher limits (2.42 rotations versus 6.24, P < 0.001). PDs and applicants had similar perspectives on the value of away rotations; both groups reported more value in finding a "good fit" and making a good impression at the program and placed less value on the educational impact. Discussion: The value of orthopaedic away rotations appears more utilitarian than educational for both PDs and applicants. Rotations are performed regardless of perceived likelihood of Matching and are used by students and programs to identify a "good fit." Therefore, given the portion of an academic year that is spent on orthopaedic rotations, findings showing perceived low educational value and marked discrepancies between the expected number of rotations by PDs and applicants indicate that the current structure of away rotations may not be well aligned with the mission of undergraduate medical education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-68
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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