Comparative Assessment of Grit, Conscientiousness, and Self-Control in Applicants Interviewing for Residency Positions and Current Orthopaedic Surgery Residents.

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OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to quantify grit, conscientiousness, and self-control in orthopaedic residency applicants and current orthopaedic surgery residents. As part of a continual reassessment of the selection process, this study will help to improve this process by assessing the introduction of these non-cognitive assessments. This is the first study to both evaluate and compare the applicants' scores to those of current residents. This introduction will allow selection of not only the current top performers but those who have the wherewithal (read grit) to sustain their efforts throughout their residency.

DESIGN: A cross-sectional study composed of a confidential electronic survey consisting of a 17-item Grit scale, 10-item Self-control scale, and 9-item Conscientiousness scale was completed by medical school applicants and orthopaedic residents.

SETTING: Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Hospital for Special Surgery.

PARTICIPANTS: Fifty-six (100%) medical student applicants (mean age = 27) were invited to participate in our study following a full day of interviews. Forty-five residents (mean age = 31) were asked and 32 (72%) completed the same surveys 4 months later.

RESULTS: There was a significant difference in grit for medical students (M = 4.19, SD = 0.34) and residents (M =3.86, SD = 0.48); t(86) = 3.76, p = 0.000. All grit subscales were also significantly different for medical students versus residents. Medical students (conscientiousness M = 4.60, SD = 0.41; self-control M = 3.51, SD = 0.30) and residents (conscientiousness M = 4.42, SD = 0.53; self-control M = 3.31, SD = 0.73) scored similarly in the conscientiousness t(86) = 1.75, p = 0.084 and self-control scales t(86) = 1.74, p = 0.086. Academic performance indicators such as the USMLE scores and residency ranking were also compared among medical student applicants.

CONCLUSIONS: The similar and above average levels of conscientiousness and self-control demonstrate the persevering nature of the individual who elects to pursue an orthopaedic residency program. Although the grit levels were different between medical school student and residents, they were above average for both groups, again demonstrating the type of individual willing to pursue an orthopaedic residency program. This study was the first to demonstrate varying degrees of grit for high-performing students versus residents in a competitive program, which seems to suggest that grit can vary over time. Future studies will investigate the validity of these non-cognitive variables in predicting achievement prospectively in a residency program.





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Medicine and Health Sciences




Department of Medicine

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