Although the field of otolaryngology has experienced a decline in the number of applicants to our residency programs, otolaryngology remains a highly competitive field with an extremely strong applicant pool. Many highly qualified candidates cannot obtain a position in our field each year, and many of these candidates choose to reapply the next year. Data are lacking regarding reapplicants' success rate and the best gap year employment and training options for these reapplicants. Reapplicants were studied prospectively via a two-stage survey during the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 application cycles. Success rates for the overall group were compared to those from published data, and success rates between subgroups were also compared. First-time reapplicants in the study performed extremely well. Their match rate (19/22) was not significantly different from that of traditional otolaryngology applicants (551/619, p = 0.73) and was significantly higher than that of nontraditional applicants not in our cohort (23/62, p < 0.001). No significant difference was found between applicants by employment/training activities, with both researchers (11/12) and surgical interns (8/10, p = 0.57) performing well. Predictors of reapplicant success could not be assessed because only 3 reapplicants in the cohort were unsuccessful. First-time otolaryngology reapplicants remain a highly competitive group of applicants to our field, regardless of employment/training activities undertaken after graduating medical school.
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