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Prognostic significance of competition ratios in surgical specialty training selection


Background A competition ratio (CR) indicates the ratio of total applications for a training post when compared with numbers of specialty posts available. This study aimed to evaluate CRs’ influence on National Training Number (NTN) selection in a single UK Statutory Education Body.

Methods Consecutive core surgical trainees numbering 154 (105 men, 49 women; median years since graduation: four) were studied over a 6-year period. Annual specialty specific CRs were obtained from Health Education England’s website, and primary outcome measure was UK NTN appointment.

Results Overall NTN appointment was 45.5%. Median CR was 2.36; range Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery 0.70 (2020) to Neurosurgery 22.0 (2020). Multivariable analysis revealed that NTN success was associated with: CR (OR 0.46, p=0.003), a single scientific publication (OR 6.25, p=0.001), cohort year (2019, OR 12.65, p=0.003) and Universal Annual Review of Competence Progression Outcome 1 (OR 45.24, p<0.001). CRs predicted NTN appointment with a Youden index defined critical ratio of 4.42; 28.6% (n=8) versus 49.2% (n=62), p=0.018.

Conclusion CRs displayed 30-fold variation, with CRs below 4.42 associated with twofold better NTN promotion, but strong clinical competence and academic reach again emerged as the principal drivers of career advancement.

Data availability statement

No data are available.

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