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Annals of Surgical Oncology

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A Survey of the Complex General Surgical Oncology Fellowship Programs Regarding Applicant Selection and Rank

Michael M. Wach MD, Reed I. Ayabe MD, Samantha M. Ruff MD, Michael D’Angelica MD, Sean P. Dineen MD, Elizabeth G. Grubbs MD, David Shibata MD, Lawrence Shirley MD, Matthew J. Weiss MD, Jeremy L. Davis MD, Jonathan M. Hernandez MD
Gastrointestinal Oncology
Volume 26, Issue 9 / September , 2019



There is significant demand for training in Complex General Surgical Oncology (CGSO) fellowships. Previous work has explored objective quantitative metrics of applicants that matriculated to CGSO fellowships; however, ambiguity remains concerning academic benchmarks and qualitative factors that impact matriculation.

Study Design

A web-based survey was sent to each ACGME/SSO-approved CGSO fellowship training program. The survey was comprised of 24 questions in various forms, including dichotomous, ranked, and five-point Likert scale questions.


Twenty-nine of 30 program directors (97%) submitted complete survey responses, representing 64 of the 65 CGSO fellowship positions (99%) currently offered. Programs received a mean of 73 applications per cycle (range 50–125) and granted a mean of 26 interviews (range 2–45). Seventy-two percent of programs had an established benchmark for ABSITE score percentile before offering a candidate an interview, with 62% of those programs setting that benchmark above the 50th percentile. The majority of programs also had established benchmarks for quantity of first author publications (mean: 2.3) and all publications of any authorship (mean: 4.4). An applicant’s interview was ranked as the most important factor in determining inclusion on the program’s rank list. The ability to work as part of a team, interpersonal interaction/communication abilities, and operative skills were rated as most important applicant characteristics, whereas an applicant’s personal statement was ranked as least important.


After established academic benchmarks have been met, a multitude of factors influences ranking of applicants to the CGSO fellowship, most of which are assessed at the interview.

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