Prior to applying or interviewing, most prospective applicants turn to the Internet when evaluating residency programs, making maintenance of a comprehensive website critical. While certain “intangibles” such as reputation may not be communicated effectively online, residency websites are invaluable for conveying other aspects of a program. Prior analyses have reported that certain criteria such as research experience and didactics are important considerations for applicants.
To evaluate the comprehensiveness of otolaryngology residency websites.
Design and Participants
Review of otolaryngology residency program websites. Websites of 99 civilian residency programs were searched for the presence of 23 criteria.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Presence of 23 criteria for application process, incentives, instruction, research, clinical training, and other.
Only 5 programs contained at least three-quarters of the criteria analyzed; on average programs reported less than 50% of information sought. Among the 99 residency program websites, a description of the following criteria was noted: comprehensive faculty listing (88%), didactics (80%), contact e-mail (77%), current residents (74%), description of facilities (70%), intern schedule (70%), research requirements (69%), otolaryngology rotation schedule (64%), other courses (61%), ERAS (Electronic Residency Application Service) link (55%), year-to-year responsibility progression (47%), call schedule (40%), active/past research projects (37%), area information (34%), message from the program director (33%) or chair (23%), selection criteria (30%), salary (directly on site) (23%), surgical statistics (18%), parking (9%), and meal allowance (7%). The mean (SD) percentage present of factors encompassing “clinical training” was 55% (23%), significantly higher than the mean (SD) percentage of factors covered under the “incentives” category (19% [11%]; P = .01). The proportion of overall criteria present on websites did not differ on organizing programs by region (range, 42%-49%). Sites for “large” programs (≥3 residents per year) were more comprehensive (49% vs 42%; P = .04).
Conclusions and Relevance
While further survey of prospective applicants would be invaluable in determining which factors are of greatest interest, many residency websites appear to be inadequately comprehensive. Despite the relative comprehensiveness of criteria relevant to clinical training when compared with other aspects of websites such as incentives, several crucial aspects of training are still not addressed in many sites.