Background: The increase in applications to residency programs, known as "application inflation," creates challenges for program directors (PDs). Prior studies have shown that internal medicine (IM) PDs utilize criteria, such as United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step examination performance, when reviewing applications. However, little is known about how early these filters are utilized in the application review cycle. Objective: This study sought to assess the frequency and types of filters utilized by IM PDs during initial residency application screening and prior to more in-depth application review. Methods: A web-based request for the 2016 Internal Medicine In-Training Examination (IM-ITE) PD Survey was sent to IM PDs. Responses from this survey were analyzed, excluding non-US programs. Results: With a 50% response rate (214 of 424), IM PDs responded that the most commonly used data points to filter applicants prior to in-depth application review were the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge score (32%, 67 of 208), USMLE Step 1 score (24%, 50 of 208), and medical school attended (12%, 25 of 208). Over half of US IM PD respondents (55%, 114 of 208) indicated that they list qualifying interview criteria on their program website, and 31% of respondents (50 of 160) indicated that more than half of their applicant pool does not meet the program's specified interview criteria. Conclusions: Results from the 2016 IM-ITE PD Survey indicate many IM PDs use filters for initial application screening, and that these filters, when available to applicants, do not affect many applicants' decisions to apply.
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