OK, the accredidation cycle. Kind of a hard thing to grasp, but I feel it’s important to understand what, if anything, this means regarding applying to programs.
Essentially the main point I’ve taken away is that programs have a certain amount of time that they can run freely, undisturbed by the ACGME, and teach their residents as they wish. When the ACGME comes around programs will often try to make themselves look great, touch up on areas they’ve not looked at, and threaten their residents to lie on their behalf (kidding but serious at the same time).
If a program has a shorter time between these visits it suggests that there’s something amiss with the resident training experience: hours violations, not enough patients or not exposure to certain diseases, not enough teaching or conferences, etc. In essence it is a gauge to see how well a program has done teaching their residents...but won't allow you to see what the problems were if a program is on probation and such.
For instance, in my school I think a lot of the problem lies in the amounts and types of patients being seen. Because the residents have to travel a lot to get a more “well-rounded education I can understand there being some issue with not getting enough patient interaction or not enough procedures, etc.
Another program might have hours infractions, residents that decide to go against their program and rat them out for abuses etc. It is just a tool to help you decide where and whom you decide to rank when it gets to that time.
I for one would not skip an interview at a place just because they’re a little light on cycle years – unless their history shows small cycles. If that’s the case then you can bet that might not be a great program and you should probably look elsewhere – or use it as a safety net.
And yes, to HBCU - I have received some interview invites, but not a lot. I'm still battling with the school to let me know when they plan on releasing the class' transcripts since I've been told none have been sent out yet. So hopefully when this goes out I'll see more.