We polled general surgery residency program directors to determine whether the evaluation system used by a medical school-pass/fail versus competitive grading-has an effect on a student's ability to compete for a residency position in general surgery. A vast majority (89%) of respondents preferred to review medical student transcripts that use grades rather than pass/fail evaluations. In addition, 83% would prefer to evaluate their own students with a grading system rather than a pass/fail mark. Eighty-one percent of program directors believed that the medical student's ability to compete for a residency position was adversely influenced by the pass/fail method of evaluation. Since program directors appear to be biased in favor of an evaluation system that provides them with more objective data, we conclude that the use of the pass/fail grading system puts the medical student at a disadvantage in competing for general surgery residency positions.
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