Improved Usability for a Leader in Residency Program Rankings

FPCS worked with Student Doctor Network to improve usability on their newly acquired property, Scutwork, a leader in residency program rankings


Student Doctor Network is the largest online medical community of students and doctors. Their tool, Scutwork offers insider reviews of medical residency programs.

Huntington Beach, CA

  • Research
  • Ideation & Product Design
  • Prototyping
  • Brand Identity
  • Visual Design
  • UI Development

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The Challenge

Scutwork was founded in 1999 to offer insider reviews of medical residency programs nationwide. The site gained popularity and became a recommended resource for medical students moving on to the next phase of their training. In 2015, Student Doctor Network (SDN) acquired Scutwork. SDN is the largest student medical community on the Internet with over 16 million page views per month. In the acquisition of Scutwork, SDN, made over 15 years of first-hand user reviews available to its members.

Scutwork represented a tremendous opportunity. However, the system was outdated and in need of a complete overhaul.

Key Insights

SDN engaged Flower Press Creative Studio to handle a product audit and redesign. We conducted a series stakeholder interviews to determine primary goals for the project. SDN was most interested in helping members find useful information quickly, to make residency program selections. They also wanted to create a safe environment so members could share their own experiences about programs they had participated in.

We conducted a series of interviews with medical students and doctors to learn what information was most important when choosing a residency program. Users agreed that first-hand accounts were valuable. However, one challenge they pointed out was the amount of time it took to read long-form reviews. Our conversations lead to this Product Insight:

Quick, visual summaries of overall impressions of a program would be very valuable when scanning large quantities of data. Making rankings easy-to-access and search against would allow users to spend their limited time reading relevant reviews.

Scutwork offered reviewers the ability to rank programs on three metrics: teaching, atmosphere, and research. This data was presented as star rankings and was embedded with each review. However, there was no average or global total shown along with the data.

The Solution

This Product Insight heavily impacted our product direction. Keyword search now includes filters for global rankings. Program summary pages have global rankings for overall program impressions, and breakdowns for, teaching, atmosphere, and research numbers. Users can quickly drill down to individual reviews, which include related individual rankings.


With this system design, busy medical students can spend their limited time reading in-depth reviews of programs that are useful and relevant.

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With these flow adjustments, and introduction into the vast, SDN community Scutwork has grown rapidly since 2016. New reviews are added every week, and SDN reports that Scutwork has become a valued resource within the community.

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