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A 17-item questionnaire was designed to assess the relative importance of various factors to physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) training directors when ranking PM&R resident applicants during the National Resident Match. The questionnaire was sent to all PM&R residency training directors. The recipients were asked to grade most selection factors based on a numerical scale: 1, unimportant; 2, some importance; 3, important; 4, very important; 5, critical. The specific factors addressed in the questionnaire were: academic criteria, letters of recommendation, individual applicant characteristics and aspects of the interview process. Twelve yes-or-no questions were also designed to determine the weight that residency training directors place on certain academic criteria.A response rate of 88% (66/75) was obtained. The most important academic criteria were grades in a PM&R clerkship in their facility (4.1 ± 0.8), followed by grades in a PM&R clerkship in another facility (3.6 ± 0.9). The most important letters of recommendation were from a PM&R faculty member in the respondent's department (4.0 ± 0.8), followed by the dean's letter (3.7 ± 1.0) and the PM&R chairman's letter (3.7 ± 1.0). The three most important applicant characteristics evaluated during the interview were compatibility with the program (4.4 ± 0.8), the ability to articulate thoughts (4.2 ± 0.8) and the ability to work with the team (4.2 ± 0.8). Most program directors used multiple criteria to complete their rank list, but the most important were based upon the interview (4.5 ± 0.9), letters of recommendation (3.7 ± 0.9), medical school transcript (3.6 ± 0.8) and the dean's letter (3.6 ± 1.1). Knowledge of the specialty, personal statements and research interest were the least important candidate criteria. The majority of respondents believed that clinical and preclinical honor grades were more important than honor status on the United States Medical Licensing Examination steps 1 and 2.

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