Plastic Surgery Research Council

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Away Rotations in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: A Survey of Program Directors
Felipe Molina Burbano, BA1, Christina Pasick, MD2, Philip J. Torina, MD2, Marco Harmaty, MD2, Peter J. Taub, MD2.
1Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, USA, 2Mount Sinai Health System, New York, NY, USA.

PURPOSE: Nearly all students hoping to match into an integrated Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (PRS) program, take part in at least one away rotation. Such away rotations have become a key evaluation tool for students and weigh heavily in a program's match rank list, with many program directors viewing a candidate's performance on away rotations as the most important criteria. The authors sought to evaluate the structure of away rotations in the United States.
METHODS: The authors conducted a survey of 67 PRS programs directors across the US. The survey was designed by the senior author (PJT) with input from fourth year medical students. It consisted of nine questions intended to explore factors affecting a rotating students' experience. RESULTS: Thirty-five (52%) program directors (PD) completed the entirety of the survey. Most program directors (91%) reported that visiting rotations at their institution lasted four weeks. When asked about the number of active interns that rotate with the program each month, fourteen (40%) had 2 active interns per month, seven (30%) had 1 per month, six (17%) had 3 per month, and five (14%) reported having 4 per month. Twenty-three (65%) programs reported that they ask students who rotate with them to return for a separate interview on one of the subsequent interview days, with five of them clarifying the invitation was not guaranteed. Nine (26%) programs reported that they specifically do not ask visiting students to return for an interview. Programs reported having an increased number of residents who were students or rotated at their institution. When comparing the number of PSY1 residents who were home medical students or students who rotated at the program with the number of residents a program has per year, an average 67% of the intern year class fit this description.
CONCLUSIONS: Despite the expense and variability in the experience, away rotations have value in presenting the program to the applicant and vice versa, with the goal of maximizing the value of the residency match. Based on our findings and considering the costs of these rotations, programs may want to consider shorter away rotations to reduce costs and possibly allow for more rotations for the student. Additionally, the authors encourage students to do away rotations at programs where they would like to match, and where they are competitive applicants.


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