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Predicting Academic Performance during Plastic Surgery Residency: Can Step 2 Scores Reliably Replace Step 1?

OBJECTIVE: Step 1 will transition to a pass/fail system in 2022. This study aimed to characterize the effects of this change on integrated plastic surgery program directors' selection criteria and assess whether Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK) can replace Step 1 as an application selection metric. DESIGN: Online survey that was administered to a collaborative group of ten plastic surgery program directors collecting USMLE Step 1, Step 2 CK, In-Service, and written board scores for 3 years of graduated integrated residents. SETTING: Ten academic integrated plastic surgery programs. PARTICIPANTS: Data from 80 graduated integrated plastic surgery residents. RESULTS: Across 80 included integrated residents, mean (SD) Step 1 score was 247 (13), Step 2 CK was 249 (13), PGY1-6 In-Service percentiles varied from 45 to 53 percentile, and written board pass rate was 98.3%. Both Step 1 and Step 2 CK correlated highly with In-Service percentiles (both p < 0.001), with Step 2 CK scores correlating similarly with In-Service performance compared to Step 1 (rho 0.359 vs. 0.355, respectively). Across applicant characteristics, program directors reported the highest relative increase in Step 2 CK importance after Step 1 transitions to pass/fail. CONCLUSIONS: Step 2 CK correlates similarly with plastic surgery In-Service performance compared to Step 1. While Step scores do not necessarily correlate with residency performance, Step 2 CK may also be used as an application screening metric for programs seeking objective data to differentiate plastic surgery applicants.


Sergesketter, Amanda R., Ronnie L. Shammas, Hannah C. Langdell, Yisong Geng, Kyle R. Eberlin, Paige Fox, Jason H. Ko, et al. “Predicting Academic Performance during Plastic Surgery Residency: Can Step 2 Scores Reliably Replace Step 1?” J Surg Educ 79, no. 3 (May 2022): 828–36.

Published Date: 
Sunday, May 1, 2022
Published In: 
J Surg Educ