A record number of new doctors will start their medical careers this summer, with hospitals having offered an all-time-high number of residency slots this Match Day, according to data released by the National Resident Matching Program, Andrew Joseph writes for STAT News.
Hospitals offered 31,757 residency slots this year, an increase of more than 1,000 from 2016, according to the report. Hospitals offered 28,439 first-year residency slots—also a record high—and filled 27,688. Overall, nearly 80 percent of matched residents were placed in one of their top-three choices.
Several fields saw the number of first-year residency positions increase by more than 10 percent between 2013 and 2017, including:
- Emergency medicine;
- Family medicine;
- Internal medicine;
- Neurology; and
- Plastic surgery.
Diagnostic radiology was the only field to see the number of available spots fall by 10 percent over the same period.
International applicantions dip amid concerns about travel ban, visa changes
The report also showed a slight drop in the number of applicants who had completed medical school abroad and were not US citizens. That number fell from 7,460 in 2016 to 7,284 this year. However, 52.4 percent of non-U.S. citizens from schools abroad were matched, which according to STAT News is the highest rate of matching for that group in more than ten years.
The report does not give a reason for the change. However, this year's match process coincided with President Trump's temporary travel bans, as well as changes to visas that can be used for residencies, STAT News reports.
The Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) has estimated 100 to 400 doctors could face difficulty getting visas necessary to begin their residencies if Trump's latest ban affecting residents from six countries—which has been temporarily blocked by courts—is allowed to take effect. William Pinsky, ECFMG president and CEO, said, "When we're talking about physicians coming into this country, the executive order couldn't have come out at a worse time."
Hospitals also have voiced concerns that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' announcement earlier this month temporarily suspending expedited visa processing for H-1B visas—visas that enable highly skilled immigrants, such as doctors, to work in the United States—could negatively affect resident matches. Without the expedited process, some foreign doctors selected for U.S. residencies may not be able to get visas quickly enough to start their residencies by July 1, the Chicago Tribune reports.
For example, 27 of the 40 residents selected by Stroger Hospital in Chicago will need a visa to complete their residencies. While H-1B visas are not the only visas the hospital's residents can apply for, John O'Brien, chair of Stroger's Department of Professional Education, said if those 27 doctors can't start their residencies on time, "it would be a tremendous hardship on our hospitals." He added, "Because we're a safety net hospital, it's critical we have residents here to help take care of the patients" (Joseph, STAT News, 3/17; Schencker, Chicago Tribune, 3/18)).
The changing physician workforce
Concerns about physician burnout have made national headlines, and the stresses facing health care providers continue to grow. Vendors that want to work with physicians need to understand this new clinical environment before they can succeed.
Check out the infographic to get a breakdown of the changes that are impacting the physician workforce. You'll also learn four new rules of engagement to help suppliers and service firms realign their offerings with the realities of health care providers.