An evaluation of accessibility and content of microsurgery fellowship websites
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BACKGROUND: Websites for residency and fellowship programs serve as effective educational and recruitment tools. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the accessibility and content of fellowship websites that are commonly used by microsurgery applicants for career development. METHODS: A list of one-year microsurgery fellowship websites (MFWs) was compiled by visiting the centralized American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery (ASRM) website, followed by performing an extensive 'Google' search in October 2015. Accessibility of MFWs was assessed. Website content regarding key recruitment and education variables was also comprehensively reviewed. Website content was correlated with program characteristics using t tests and ANOVA (two-tailed; P<0.05 was considered to be statistically significant). RESULTS: A list of 53 eligible programs was compiled. Only 15 of 51 (29%) ASRM program links were functional. On average, the combined content from ASRM website and individual MFWs had 2.91 of 6 recruitment variables and 1.32 of 6 education variables, respectively. The majority of programs listed 'eligibility criteria' (87%) and 'general information' (87%). 'Evaluation criteria' were most poorly reported (4%). Recruitment score was higher for United States programs compared with international counterparts (51% versus 33%, respectively; P=0.02). It was also higher in programs that focus on 'extremity' versus 'breast' (58% versus 37%; P=0.0028). Education scores did not differ according to location, program size, subspecialty of focus or participation in the Microsurgery Match process. CONCLUSION: Information regarding recruitment and education on most MFWs is scarce. Academic institutions should keep website content up to date and comprehensive to better assist candidates in the application process.