The number of applicants to pediatric urology fellowships is often lower than the
available positions (chart), giving applicants significant influence over where they
ultimately match. Historically, interviews were conducted at individual hospitals,
in-person, with residents bearing most costs. The objective of this study was to understand
the factors associated with where applicants decide to apply, interview, and match
for fellowship, as well as barriers within this process.
A 24-question survey was sent via email to all applicants who successfully matched
into pediatric urology fellowship from 2013 to 2019. Questions included: demographics;
factors associated with where they applied, interviewed, and ranked; and barriers
within the application process.
A total of 126 recent and current fellows were contacted, and 73 (60%) completed the
full survey (51% male and 49% female). On average, respondents applied to 10 programs,
interviewed at 9, and ranked 8. The most important factors in choosing where to apply/interview
were: volume of surgical cases, diversity of surgical cases, and advice from mentors.
The most important factors when making a rank list were: clinical autonomy, reputation
of program, and structure of program. Hospital facilities were only rated “important”
by 12% of respondents.
82% (60 respondents) faced at least one personal or professional barrier during the
application process. The most common barrier was “cost of interviewing” (59%, 43 respondents).
Personal vacation time was used by 61% of applicants during interviews, with 37% using
more than 5 days.
This study is the first to explore the factors that applicants consider when choosing
where to apply, interview, and rank for pediatric urology fellowship. This information
is important to understand due to the current supply and demand of fellowship positions.
We are limited by extrapolating more general conclusions about applicants as a whole
from a survey with a 60% response rate and the lack of an available validated survey
in this realm.
This study has shown that most pediatric urology fellowship applicants apply to programs
primarily based on perceived surgical volume and reputational factors. These same
factors are used when making a rank list. Many applicants faced personal or professional
barriers during the application process, largely due to costs and time away from work
and family. While recent interviews have transitioned to a virtual format by necessity,
prior applicants did not rate hospital facilities as important to them. Overall, there
is room to improve this process based on such feedback.