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Plastic Surgery

Plastic Surgery Residency Questions

What advice would you give about getting letters of recommendation in your specialty?

  • You should submit strong letters of reference that show you are an excellent candidate for the position.
  • At least one of these should be from a Plastic Surgeon with whom you have worked.
  • It is valuable to have a letter from an individual that is part of a Plastic Surgery program other than your own.

What is the value of doing audition rotations in your specialty?

  • It is always valuable to do a rotation at your home program. This allows you to become more experienced in the specialty before away rotations or perfect your skills upon return.
  • Further, it may otherwise seem that you are not serious about the specialty. Often when it comes to ranking applicants, programs will go with someone who is familiar rather than someone who has not rotated. Failing to do an elective at a home program but then applying to it may make the program feel that you are using it as a back-up option.
  • We will almost certainly offer an interview to those who have rotated with us unless there is a major concern or lack of fit.

To what extent does research, publications, or presentations affect one’s ability to match in your specialty?

  • As programs are becoming more competitive having done research is always beneficial.
  • Try to involve yourself early so your CV does not look like you are listing things at the last minute because you were deficient in that area.
  • Strong research in another subspecialty is also useful. We understand that sometimes paths and interest do change; however, a strong knowledge of the research process and demonstrating the perseverance to complete a project is beneficial.

Is a Step 2CK score needed before you will invite someone for an interview?

  • We have a standard minimum step score for outside applicants who have not done a rotation at our institution. However, for those who have rotated we almost always offer an interview regardless of the step score. Thus, as noted above it is beneficial to do a rotation at your home program as it affords you an interview.
  • When selections come down to fine details then we may consider step scores particularly if one student has an outstanding score.
  • We are understanding that standardized tests do not always reflect ability and knowledge.

What does the perfect applicant look like in your specialty?

  • Intelligent, motivated, honest, team player, ethical, willing to learn
  • Has demonstrated interest in the specialty and done some research
  • Technically able

Does having a below average Step 1 score doom you in your specialty?

  • Not necessarily – see above and encouraged to do elective but then must be a real standout

Would you ever take someone with a Step 2CS failure?

  • Probably not

Does a student need to Honor in your specialty in order to match?

  • Probably yes as we have many elective students who do Honor.

The students have significant elective time during their 2nd and 3rd year for career exploration.

What electives would you recommend to a student who knows they are interested in your specialty?

  • Plastics rotation early – attend conferences when able, get to know residents and staff
  • Dermatology or ophthalmology may be useful
  • Away PS electives
  • Other surgical subspecialties like orthopedics

What electives would you recommend to a student who is undecided but considering your specialty?

  • As above, these will help you determine if you are surgically oriented or are looking more for a similar specialty that has more of a medicine side with procedures.

Is there anything else I haven’t asked that you feel an applicant to your specialty ought to know?

  • Explore specialties early.
  • Feel free to come and join us in the OR or clinic in your early years. When people show up on their free time to learn about our team it leaves an impression.

Plastic Surgery Residency Data

Length of Training: 2 years

Mean USMLE Step 1 score = 249
Mean USMLE Step 2 CK score = 254

Mean number of programs applied to: 71

Programs: 71

Prerequisites: Requires successful completion of a residency program in neurological surgery, orthopedic surgery, otolaryngology, or urology.

Program Interview Invites (%): Completions (%):
Before Oct. 1 0 0
October 40 0
November 40 13
December 18 30
January 2 57

Average hours worked per week: 52


Sources: NRMP; AAMC
Updated: 01-2019