Factors influencing emergency medicine residency choice: Diversity, community, and recruitment red flags

Paul L. Weygandt, Laura Smylie, Edgardo Ordonez, Jaime Jordan, Arlene S. Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Emergency medicine (EM) applicants consider many factors when selecting residency programs. Prior studies have demonstrated that applicants consider geography as well as modifiable/nonmodifiable program factors. Less attention, however, has been paid to underrepresented groups. Additionally, the prevalence and characteristics of “red flags,” or factors that may lead an applicant to lower a program's rank or not rank it at all, remain unknown in EM. Our objective was to describe the factors that influence current EM-bound medical students’ residency selection focusing on underrepresented applicants and red flags encountered during the recruitment process. Methods: We conducted a mixed-methods survey study of EM-bound graduates from U.S. medical schools in the 2020 application cycle. Quantitative analysis included descriptive statistics, measures of central tendency, 95% confidence intervals (CIs), nonparametric tests for ordinal data, and logistic regression. For the qualitative portion of the study, two independent reviewers performed a thematic analysis of the red flag free-text responses. Discrepancies were addressed via consensus with third-party oversight. Results: Our survey response rate was 49%, and most applicants considered both geographic and program factors. Underrepresented applicants prioritized program diversity, program commitment to the underserved, neighborhood/community, and patient population. Of all respondents, 71% reported red flags. Women had a significantly higher odds of encountering red flags (odds ratio = 1.64, 95% CI = 1.25 to 2.18). Red flags included seven key themes: violations of regulatory standards, program characteristics, interview day experience, program culture, interpersonal interactions, lack of fit, and quality of life; subthemes included lack of diversity and racism. Conclusions: Modifiable/nonmodifiable program factors and geography continue to influence EM-bound applicants’ residency choices. Underrepresented applicants place a higher value on diversity, community, and patients served. Residency programs should consider modifiable factors and self-assess for red flags to successfully recruit the next generation of EM physicians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere10638
JournalAEM Education and Training
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency
  • Education
  • Emergency Medicine


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