Researching Residency Programs On the Web

May 10, 2011

When medical students begin their search for a residency program, they factor region, prestige in field, comfort, and potential for learning into their decision to apply.

While whittling down their choices, students often visit the program’s website to gather more information.

Douglas Tanita, M.D., thinks having a well designed, informative page may be the key to better attract potential applicants.

That is why Tanita, a 2007 AUC graduate, delved into the topic as part of his research project during his Obstetrics & Gynecology residency at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Bayfront requires all of its residents to complete a research project and submit it for publication.

Tanita submitted his findings to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a nonprofit organization of women’s health care physicians. His work was accepted, and he presented it at the ACOG national conference in early May.

“It’s my first really big study that I have done and I really like it,” said Tanita, who grew up in San Diego, Calif., and received his bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from the University of California in Santa Barbara.

“Going through this process helps residents get a better understanding of the journals that we read. As doctors, we need to read these studies and get a better understanding of how good the study is and whether it has enough statistical significance to change things.”

To gather information for the study, Tanita constructed a web survey and sent it out to 216 recently matched PGY-1 OB/GYN residents in the United States. Data was collected using a 1-10 scale and divided into three categories: Less Influential (1-3), Moderately Influential (4-6), Very Influential (7-10).

Of the 179 participants who responded, 68 percent reported that program websites played a moderate or very influential part in their decision on whether or not to apply to a program.

Eighty percent believed that being able to navigate the site with ease was a very important component of a program’s website.

Tanita found, though, that websites are less influential in regards to where applicants choose to interview and, to a lesser extent, how to rank a program.

The Bayfront website was recently revamped, and Tanita helped the web developer put the residency page together. He still manages the day-to-day operations.

“It was a necessity and people said the website looked a lot better than what it was before,” said Tanita, who is in his fourth year of residency. “Now it’s more user friendly for multiple browsers.”

Click here for Bayfront’s Residency site.