Importance: The ophthalmology residency application process is critical for applicants and residency programs, and knowledge about the preferences of applicants would assist both groups in improving the process. Objective: To evaluate the experiences and preferences of ophthalmology residency applicants. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cross-sectional, nonvalidated survey was conducted online. All applicants to the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute ophthalmology residency program during the 2018-2019 application cycle were invited to complete the survey. Data collection occurred from April 1, 2019, to April 30, 2019. Main Outcomes and Measures: Applicant demographics, application submissions, interview experiences, financial considerations, match results, and suggestions for improvement of the application process. Results: Responses were received from 185 applicants (36.4%), including 77 women (41.6%). A successful match into an ophthalmology residency was achieved by 172 respondents (93.0%). There was a mean (SD) US Medical Licensing Examination Step 1 score of 245.8 (13.3) points. Respondents applied to a mean (SD) of 76.4 (23.5) ophthalmology residency programs, received 14.0 (9.0) invitations to interview, and attended 10.3 (4.4) interviews. Choices regarding applications and interviews were based mostly on program reputation, location, and advisor recommendation. A usual lead time of at least 3 weeks between the invitation and interview was reported by 126 respondents (69.2%), which was reduced to 14 respondents (15.1%) when a wait-list was involved. The ophthalmology residency application process cost a mean (SD) of $5704 ($2831) per applicant. Respondents reported that they were most able to reduce costs through housing choices (hotel stays or similar arrangements) and least able to reduce costs by limiting the number of programs to which they applied or at which they interviewed. Conclusions and Relevance: The ophthalmology residency application process is complex and poses substantial challenges to applicants and residency programs. These findings suggest that many current applicants have difficulty selecting programs to apply to, and most respondents desired changes to the current system of interview invitations and scheduling.
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