A record number of doctors are starting their medical career this year, the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) announced Friday.
Friday was Match Day, when medical school students and graduates from the United States and around the world learn where they'll complete their residency. According to NRMP, Match Day results can be an indicator of specialty competitiveness and physician workforce trends.
This year's match
Hospitals this year offered 33,617 residency slots—the largest ever on record—including 30,232 first-year positions. In total, 37,103 applicants submitted program choices through the system this year—also a record high—and 31,899 individuals were matched, according to the American Hospital Association, an increase of 1,421 matches from 2017.
NRMP attributed the high levels in part to an increase in the number of applicants from U.S. osteopathic medical schools. This year, 4,617 osteopathic medical school students and graduates submitted program choices through the system, up 68.6% since 2014.
NRMP said it expects the number of osteopathic students who use the system to continue to increase in coming years because of the transition to a single accreditation system. The American Osteopathic Association Match will cease to exist by 2020, when all graduate medical education programs will be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.
Trends by specialty
Several specialties saw the number of first-year residency positions increase, according to NRMP. For instance, primary care specialties—which include internal medicine, family medicine, and pediatrics—accounted for about half of all first-year residency positions offered. According to NRMP, the number of primary care positions has grown by 1,713 since 2014, an increase of 13.2%.
Other specialties that experience notable growth, according to NRMP, included:
- Emergency medicine;
- Neurology; and
According to NRMP, specialties with more than 30 positions that filled all slots included:
- Integrated interventional radiology;
- Neurological surgery;
- Physical medicine and rehabilitation; and
- Thoracic surgery.
Trends in international students
There was a slight increase—six people—in the number of U.S. citizen international medicine school students and graduates (IMGs) who submitted choices this year. Out of 5,075 applicants, 2,900—57.1%—matched to first-year positions, which NRMP said was the highest match rate since 1993.
Meanwhile, the number of non-U.S. citizen IMGs who participated in the Match dropped for the second year in a row, according to NRMP. The organization said 7,067 non-U.S. citizen IMGs submitted program choices, down by 217 applicants from 2017 and by 393 applicants from 2016. However, the organization noted that the match rate for this group was also the highest since 1993, at 56.1%.
Mona Singer, NRMP president and CEO, said while the organization couldn't "say for certain that the immigration restrictions have been the cause" of a decline in non-U.S. citizen IMGs participating in the Match program, "it seems likely" (Jones Sanborn, Healthcare Finance News, 3/16; American Hospital Association release, 3/16; National Residency Match Program release, 3/16).
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