Reply: The Association between Away Rotations and Rank Order… : Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

We would like to thank Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Rajesh for their interest in our article, “The Association between Away Rotations and Rank Order in the Integrated Plastic Surgery Match.”1 In our study, we found that away rotators and home students may have an advantage in rank order and likelihood to match into integrated plastic surgery. The authors comment that performing a research year at an institution also confers benefit to the integrated plastic surgery applicant in addition to away rotations. We agree with this statement. In the context of prior articles demonstrating a Match advantage to prior research fellows,2,3 we grouped research residents with away rotators in our study. Program directors were asked to consider research fellows as an away rotator when completing the survey. However, we agree that further elucidating how performing a research fellowship compares to an away rotation in terms of Match benefit would be interesting in future studies.

In addition, the authors comment that performing a virtual away rotation may differentially impact medical students’ connections with programs compared to in-person away rotations. We also agree with this statement and have since performed an additional survey study for the 2019/2020 Match cycle to determine how the shift to virtual rotations, as necessitated by COVID-19, impacted rank orders (manuscript currently in submission). We found that the shift to virtual rotations led to a higher percentage of home students matching at their respective program compared to prior years.

With recent shifts to the away rotation structure by the American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons, applicants are now recommended to perform only one away rotation per year.4 In this context, we aim for this study to promote thoughtfulness on the part of both applicants and program directors when selecting away rotations and rotators. Ultimately, we also hope to inform ongoing discussions within our educational societies regarding the permanence of this policy when considering whether medical students should be recommended to perform one or multiple away rotations going forward.


The authors have no relevant financial disclosures to report.

Amanda R. Sergesketter, M.D.
Brett T. Phillips, M.D., M.B.A.
Division of Plastic, Oral, and Maxillofacial Surgery
Duke University
Durham, N.C.


1. Sergesketter AR, Glener AD, Shammas RL, et al. The association between away rotations and rank order in the integrated plastic surgery match. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2021;147:1050e–1056e.

2. Carney MJ, Weissler JM, Koltz PF, Fischer JP, Wu LC, Serletti JM. Academic productivity, knowledge, and education in plastic surgery: The benefit of the clinical research fellow. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2017;140:842–849.

3. Mehta K, Sinno S, Thanik V, Weichman K, Janis JE, Patel A. Matching into integrated plastic surgery: The value of research fellowships. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2019;143:640–645.

4. American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons. Away rotation update. 2021. Available at: https://acaplasticsurgeons.org/covid.cgi#2. Accessed June 23, 2021.


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