Researchers find link between articles published before ophthalmology residency, future career path

A study was conducted with the goal of evaluating a correlation between the number of peer-reviewed publications published before a residency and the subsequent peer-reviewed publications or career choices of doctors who graduated from an Ophthalmology residency program.

Researchers gathered the names of graduates of Ophthalmology residency programs from cohort and alumni lists on residency program websites or by emailing program directors.

Research studies published before doctors engage in a residency program is weakly correlated with future research or the choice of an academic career in ophthalmology, but admissions committees should recognize the current limitations of these investigations,1 according to the investigators led by Joshua Reyes, BS, from the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami, Miami.

They explained that “Ophthalmology-residency selection committees require robust metrics to review applicants, and participation in research activities is a core component of the application process for its perceived association with future academic productivity.”

Mr. Reyes and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study with the goal of evaluating a correlation between the number of peer-reviewed publications published before a residency and the subsequent peer-reviewed publications or career choices of doctors who graduated from an Ophthalmology residency program.

The primary outcome was the correlations between peer-reviewed publications published before a residency program and later publications, first authorship, and journal publications with an impact factor score of 3 or more. The secondary outcome measure was the difference in the characteristics associated with academic vs. community-based ophthalmologist.

The researchers gathered the names of graduates of Ophthalmology residency programs from cohort and alumni lists on residency program websites or by emailing program directors. PubMed was searched and the publications were categorized as before, during, and after residency programs. The investigators recorded the first authors and publications with an impact factor score of 3 or higher. The study included residency program graduates from 2013 to 2016.

The study included 964, representing 52% of graduates of residency programs; most of the included ophthalmologists, 85.5%, had published studies indexed in PubMed.

The authors reported that first authorship (ρ = 0.71; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.67-0.74; p < 0.001) was strongly positively correlated with studies published during the residency program, while journal publications with an impact factor score of 3 or higher (ρ = 0.56; 95% CI, 0.51-0.60; p < 0.001) and peer-reviewed publications from before the residency program (ρ = 0.38; 95% CI, 0.32-0.43; p < 0.001) had moderate and weak positive correlations, respectively.

Regarding articles published after the residency, journal publications with an impact factor score of 3 or more (ρ = 0.86; 95% CI, 0.84-0.87; p < 0.001) had the strongest positive correlation followed by first authorship (ρ = 0.77; 95% CI, 0.74-0.79; p < 0.001) and peer-reviewed publications published before the residency program (ρ = 0.26; 95% CI, 0.20-0.31; p <0 .001).

The publications before (t = 3.3; p = 0.001), during (t = 4.1; p < 0.001), and after residency (t = 7.5; p < 0.001), first author (t = 6.6; p <0 .001), and journal publications with an impact factor score of 3 or higher (t = 5.9; p < .001) were greater for academic ophthalmologists compared with community-based ophthalmologists, the authors reported.

In commenting on their findings, the authors said, “It is unclear if exposure to research and publishing during training fosters an interest in an academic career or whether these scholarly activities are done to achieve a pre-established career goal of entering academic medicine. Furthermore, applicants who publish more are likely to have better access to mentorship and research support, which subsequently encourages more research publications. Programs with a greater focus on academia may also rank applicants with a history of research and academic aspirations higher, creating selection bias favoring those future ophthalmologists’ development into university-based clinicians.”

Reference

1. Reyes J, Seddon I, Watane A, et al. Association betweenpreresidency peer-reviewed publications and future academic productivity or career choice among ophthalmology residency applicants. JAMA Ophthalmol. Published online January 12, 2023. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2022.5815

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