Original Research

Evaluation of Micrographic Surgery and Dermatologic Oncology Fellowship Program Websites

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Practice Points

  • With the COVID-19 pandemic and the movement to a virtual fellowship application process, fellowship program websites that are comprehensive and accessible may help programs attract compatible candidates, improve transparency, and guide applicants through the application process.
  • There is variation in the content of current micrographic surgery and dermatologic oncology fellowship program websites and areas upon which programs may seek to augment their website content to better reflect program strengths while attracting competitive candidates best suited for their program.



To the Editor:

Micrographic surgery and dermatologic oncology (MSDO) is a highly competitive subspecialty fellowship in dermatology. Prospective applicants often depend on the Internet to obtain pertinent information about fellowship programs to navigate the application process. An up-to-date and comprehensive fellowship website has the potential to be advantageous for both applicants and programs—applicants can more readily identify programs that align with their goals and values, and programs can effectively attract compatible applicants. These advantages are increasingly relevant with the virtual application process that has become essential considering the COVID-19 pandemic. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, we sought to evaluate the comprehensiveness of the content of Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) MSDO fellowship program websites to identify possible areas for improvement.

We obtained a list of all ACGME MSDO fellowships from the ACGME website (https://www.acgme.org/) and verified it against the list of MSDO programs in FREIDA, the American Medical Association residency and fellowship database (https://freida.ama-assn.org/). All programs without a website were excluded from further analysis. All data collection from currently accessible fellowship websites and evaluation occurred in April 2020.

The remaining MSDO fellowship program websites were evaluated using 25 criteria distributed among 5 domains: education/research, clinical training, program information, application process, and incentives. These criteria were determined based on earlier studies that similarly evaluated the website content of fellowship programs with inclusion of information that was considered valuable in the appraisal of fellowship programs.1,2 Criteria were further refined by direct consideration of relevance and importance to MSDO fellowship applicants (eg, inclusion of case volume, exclusion of call schedule).

Each criterion was independently assessed by 2 investigators (J.Y.C. and S.J.E.S.). A third investigator (J.R.P.) then independently evaluated those 2 assessments for agreement. Where disagreement was discovered, the third evaluator (J.R.P.) provided a final appraisal. Cohen’s kappa (κ) was conducted to evaluate for concordance between the 2 primary website evaluators. We found there to be substantial agreement between the reviewers within the education/research (κ [SD]=0.772 [0.077]), clinical training (κ [SD]=0.740 [0.051]), application process (κ [SD]=0.726 [0.103]), and incentives domains (κ [SD]=0.730 [0.110]). There was moderate agreement (κ [SD]=0.603 [0.128]) between the reviewers within the program information domain.

We identified 77 active MSDO fellowship programs. Sixty of those 77 programs (77.9%) had a dedicated fellowship website that was readily accessible. Most programs that had a dedicated fellowship website had a core or affiliated residency program (49/60 [81.7%]).

Websites that we evaluated fulfilled a mean (SD) of 9.37 (4.17) of the 25 identified criteria. Only 13 of 60 (21.7%) websites fulfilled more than 50% of evaluated criteria.

There was no statistical difference in the number of criteria fulfilled based on whether the fellowship program had a core or affiliated residency program.


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