Re-engineering the Resident Applicant Selection Process in Ophthalmology: A Literature Review and Recommendations for Improvement

Andrew G. Lee, Karl C. Golnik, Thomas A. Oetting, Hilary A. Beaver, H. Culver Boldt, Richard Olson, Emily Greenlee, Michael D. Abramoff, A. Tim Johnson, Keith Carter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


The current resident selection process for ophthalmology has undergone little change over the last several years and remains highly dependent on the traditional selection factors (i.e., grades, honors, letters of recommendation, and an interview). Unfortunately, these selection factors have not been shown to be consistently predictive of future resident performance. In addition, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) has mandated implementation of six new competencies in resident training in the USA and the current selection process does not directly recruit for these competencies. We propose an implementation strategy to re-engineer and improve the resident selection process in ophthalmology and potentially develop assessments that would be predictive of actual downstream resident performance that would encompass the ACGME related competencies. An intra-departmental Task Force for the ACGME Competencies reviewed a PubMed literature search regarding resident selection. A content expert (AGL) gleaned selected "good practices" from the literature review and summarized the results. Specific recommendations were reviewed for topicality to ophthalmology and where possible for feasibility, reliability, and validity. We summarize several good practices identified from the literature review and propose an implementation matrix for aligning the resident application process with the ACGME competencies that might include: using a standardized and consolidated academic score for the cognitive domains; converting the letter of recommendation format into a letter of evaluation; standardizing the letters of evaluation, including the "Dean's letter"; using behavior specific interview techniques with standardized questions; and developing a specialty based consensus for the selection of traits specific to ophthalmology that might predict success. The resident selection process for ophthalmology might be improved by implementation of specific good practices from the literature. Ophthalmology should strive to develop applicant selection tools that might be useful for predicting residency performance and that would align with the ACGME competency mandate for tools to predict future performance as a physician.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)164-176
Number of pages13
JournalSurvey of Ophthalmology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2008


  • competency
  • interviews
  • resident
  • resident selection
  • resident training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


Dive into the research topics of 'Re-engineering the Resident Applicant Selection Process in Ophthalmology: A Literature Review and Recommendations for Improvement'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this