It may not be the first quality that most medical residency programs evaluate in their applicants, but a new study suggests past success in team sports could be the best indicator of how well a doctor-in-training will do as a resident.
When residency pro-grams evaluate medical school applicants for a few coveted spots, they typically consider grades, standardized test scores, recommendations and interviews.
But researchers from one head and neck specialty program found that a resident having excelled in team sports was a more accurate predictor of success in the program than any of those other factors.
The results were published Monday in the journal Archives of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery. Residency programs are graduate training after would-be doctors receive medical degrees when they work under the supervision of fully licensed physicians.
Lead researcher Dr. Richard Chole from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis said he'd been "mystified" that applicants with great grades and medical school recommendations didn't end up necessarily being the best doctors by the end of residency training.
But now, he said, it makes sense that being part of a team helps prepare people for a career in medicine.
"There's a lot more to being a good doctor than answering multiple-choice questions," Chole told Reuters Health.
"In the operating room, it's not just a principal surgeon doing the surgery it's an anesthesiologist and all the nurses," he said. "Unless a person is willing and able to work with a team, they don't do well."
Chole and co-author Dr. M. Allison Ogden evaluated the original applications of their last 46 residents in the head and neck training program, comparing applicant qualities with faculty members' assessments of who ended up being a good doctor.