Fellow selection protocols in sleep surgery: a national survey of sleep surgery program directors



To determine the factors that sleep medicine/surgery fellowship program directors look for in applicants.


Program directors from 9 sleep medicine/surgery fellowship programs in the USA were sent an anonymous online survey. They were asked to select the five most important academic factors (of a list of 17) when evaluating potential fellowship candidates, then rank those five in order of importance. They were then asked to do the same for the most important subjective criteria (of a list of 12).


Eight of 10 survey responses met inclusion criteria. Of the academic factors, strength of letters of recommendation, reputation of letter writer, and letters from sleep surgeons ranked highest. As for the subjective criteria, faculty assessment of the applicant on interview was ranked highest, followed by initiative and personality “fit” with the program. The reputation of an applicant’s residency was ranked as more important than the reputation of their medical school. An applicant’s performance in residency was assessed as more predictive of their performance in fellowship than performance during the interview process or position on the rank order list for the match. Only one program has a United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step, and a different program has an Otolaryngology Training Examination (OTE) score cutoff.


Letters of recommendation and interview are the most important factors in the selection process for hybrid sleep medicine and surgery fellowship programs, followed by research and residency program reputation. Sleep surgery-specific experience is helpful.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. 1.

    Dedhia RC, Yaremchuk KL (2015) The uncertain fate of otolaryngology in sleep medicine. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 152(3):381–382

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Gouveia CJ, Kern RC, Liu SYC, Capasso R (2017) The state of academic sleep surgery: a survey of United States residency and fellowship programs. Laryngoscope. 127:2423–2428

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    American Board of Medical Specialties. ABMS Board Certification Report 2018–2019. Printed September 2019. Accessed April 10, 2020

  4. 4.

    National Resident Matching Program. Match results statistics: sleep medicine 2019. Published October 30, 2019.

  5. 5.

    Yung KC, Courey MS (2015) Factors important in laryngology fellow and laryngology fellowship selection. Laryngoscope. 125:2543–2546. https://doi.org/10.1002/lary.25453

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Chun R, Preciado D, Brown DJ, Elluru R, Ishman SL, Kerschner J, Richter GT, Sulman C (2014) Choosing a fellow or fellowship: a survey of pediatric otolaryngologists. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 140(2):102–105. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamaoto.2013.5859

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Yaremchuk K, Wardrop PA (2010) Sleep medicine. Plural Publishing, San Diego

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Gay P, Weaver T, Loube D, Iber C, Positive Airway Pressure Task Force, Standards of Practice Committee, American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2006) Evaluation of positive airway pressure treatment for sleep related breathing disorders in adults. Sleep 29:381–401

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Sim MW, Stanley JJ (2014) Trends in otolaryngology residency training in the surgical treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. Laryngoscope. 124:579–582

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Shen T, Shimahara E, Cheng J, Capasso R (2011) Sleep medicine clinical and surgical training during otolaryngology residency: a national survey of otolaryngology residency programs. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 145(6):1043–1048

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Lam AS, Wise SK, Dedhia RC (2017) Practice patterns of sleep otolaryngologists at training institutions in the United States. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 156(6):1025–1031

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Michael T. Chung.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

All studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of Detroit Medical Center and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Engel, R., Chung, M.T., Johnson, J. et al. Fellow selection protocols in sleep surgery: a national survey of sleep surgery program directors. Sleep Breath (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11325-020-02132-y

Download citation


  • Sleep surgery
  • Fellowship
  • Selection criteria
  • Protocol