I don't think so, and here's why.
The rankings of residency programs were obtained by surveying surgeon members of Doximity. They were asked name the five top programs for clinical surgery training. When the survey was announced in June, I predicted that most respondents would probably overlook the word "clinical" and focus on the usual famous academic institutions.
I also pointed out that anyone not intimately familiar with a program would be unable to judge whether it is good or not and suggested that reputation would be the main driver of results.
In fact, that is exactly what happened. Of the top 40 programs listed, all are based at university hospitals, as are 66 of the top 70. Back in June, I speculated about the top five programs and got the first two correct but in the wrong order.
A 2012 survey of surgical residents with over 4200 responders (an 80% response rate) found that community hospital trainees were significantly more satisfied with their operative experience and less likely to worry about practicing independently after graduation. Wouldn't you then expect a few community hospital programs to be among the top 40 hospitals for clinical surgery training?
Proof that the survey's findings are not reliable is that every one of the 253 surgical residency programs in the country was mentioned by one or more of those who responded. This included one program that has been terminated by the Residency Review Committee for Surgery. At least it appears near the bottom of the list.
The number of voters who cited the lower ranking programs must have been very few, meaning the difference between the 200th and 240th program ranks is probably not statistically significant.
Some programs that were rated are so new that very few or no residents have graduated yet. How could anyone know if they are turning out competent clinical surgeons?
Board passage rates for programs, which are available online, were omitted for some and were not clearly identified as the percentage of residents who passed both parts of the boards on the first attempt only.
The percentile rankings of alumni peer-reviewed articles, grants, and clinical trials are displayed prominently. What do those data have to do with the research question—which residency programs "offer the best clinical training"?
So what's the bottom line?
You can put the Doximity Resident Navigator in with the other misleading ratings of hospitals and doctors. Applicants considering surgical residencies should not rely on it for guidance.
It has warmed the hearts of faculty and residents at highly rated programs, but I wonder how the OR lounge discussions are going at places where programs ranked lower than expected.