Message from the Chair
“Who am I supposed to go after?”
George Steinbrenner, Owner, New York Yankees
(In response to criticism from his rivals for annually pursuing the best major league baseball free agents available)
Orthopaedic Surgery has become an exceedingly popular career choice among present-day medical students. The UTMB Department of Orthopaedic Surgery (DOSR) usually receives an overwhelming number of applications for its five accredited residency slots. The challenge for our program is a formidable one…who should we select to fill these positions?
The principal responsibility of DOSR faculty is the education and ultimate professional certification of our resident physicians. This process begins with our fundamental obligation to select the applicants with the potential to become the best orthopedic surgeons. The non-scholastic merits of these preferred candidates usually reflect strong leadership skills, unique talents, diverse backgrounds, a wide range of life experiences, and dedicated service to others. As faculty, our innate sense is the only tool we have with which to make comparative assessments based upon these virtues.
DOSR residents, past and present, can certainly impact the selection process. Residents create the appeal of the program by the nature and intensity of their effort during training and their success after its completion. They lack a formal vote; but they do provide faculty with a unique perspective on how the more subtle attributes of an applicant might fit with the intricacies our program.
Most applicants receive the unconditional support of family, friends, and/or professional acquaintances. These advocates also offer extremely valuable personal insights into a candidate, and assist DOSR faculty in making distinctions among our top applicants. This input, alone, however, does not designate a top choice.
The most significant basis for success in the selection process is determined solely by the applicant. Superior academic performance has become the standard for any truly competitive orthopaedic surgery aspirant. Many practicing orthopaedic surgeons quietly concede that their own admission into our subspecialty would not be assured in today’s highly competitive applicant market. This, albeit harsh, is our reality.
The quality and growth of tomorrow’s musculoskeletal healthcare will be predominantly determined by the aptitude of the trainees we select today. Understandably, therefore, the basis for any meaningful resident selection methodology always begins with the comparative scholastic merits of the candidates. In the years to come, if you, we, or any of our loved ones were ever in need of their services, who would you wish we had selected?
Ronald W. Lindsey, MD