Training is cheaper for orthopedic surgery residents during pandemic, study finds


In the residency application cycle that coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, the median expenditures of orthopedic residency candidates were $5,000 lower than in the previous year, according to a study published online Dec. 16 in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research.

Here are 5 notes from the study:

1. The study assessed the impact of such changes as the elimination of in-person interviews and away rotations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and included survey responses from 263 orthopedic surgery residency applicants who matched to programs in 2020 before the pandemic. They were compared to responses from 258 applicants from the 2021 application year.

2. Residents' median total expenses for 2020 were $7,250 versus $2,250 for 2021. When broken down by geographic region, median total expenses for 2021 were still lower across the board, with applicants in the West saving $6,000, the highest savings of any region.

3. Regional differences in median total expenditures were muted in 2021. The difference between the geographic region with the highest total expenses versus the lowest total expenses was $1,000 in 2021 versus $1,500 in early 2020.

4. Application costs ($2,250 versus $1,750); away rotation expenses ($2,750 versus $250); and interview expenses ($2,250 versus $75) all declined in 2021.

5. In 2020, Northeast and Western applicants spent more for away rotations —$3,250 each — than Southern and Central applicants, who spent $2,750 and $2,250, respectively. In 2021, applicants from schools in the South and Central regions spent more — $250 each — than their counterparts, who spent nothing.

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