It is a universally acknowledged fact that plastic surgery is the most sought after residency in the United States. Unlike most other major surgical subspecialties, there are two well-defined routes to becoming a plastic surgeon—the independent and the integrated pathways. The integrated pathway consists of 6-year training programs that accept graduating medical students. With only 80 positions in the U.S.A., it is no wonder that most programs receive up to 100 medical student applicants per spot. On the other hand, the independent pathway consists of 3-year plastic surgery training programs that accept graduates after they have finished a general surgery, neurological surgery, orthopedic surgery, oral and maxillofacial surgery, otolaryngology, and urology residency. Both pathways are very competitive. In 2011, only 44 percent of U.S. medical student applicants applying to integrated plastic surgery programs matched into the specialty. For comparison, the next lowest match rate belonged to orthopedic surgery, at 77 percent.
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