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Match Day Results: More Primary Care Doctors Than Specialists

More U.S. medical school seniors committed to primary care residencies over specialty positions in the largest Main Residency Match in the history of the program.  According to the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), for the first time ever the total number of Match registrants topped 40,000, including almost 1,000 more U.S. seniors.

“We attribute the rising number of U.S. students to three new medical schools graduating their first classes as well as enrollment expansions in existing medical schools,” said NRMP Executive Director Mona M. Signer.

Known as the Match, the NRMP aligns graduating medical students with residency training programs in specialties they want to pursue. The total number of positions offered in The Match was 29,171, an increase of 2,399 over last year and an all-time high. This year 1,000 more internal medicine positions were placed in The Match, along with 297 more in family medicine and 141 more in pediatrics. Match results can be an indicator of career interests among U.S. medical school seniors. Among the notable trends this year:

  • 3,135 U.S. seniors matched to internal medicine, an increase of 194 over last year.
  • 1,837 U.S. seniors matched to pediatrics, an increase of 105 over last year.
  • Family medicine matched 1,355 U.S. seniors, 33 more than last year.
  • More than 95 percent of family medicine positions were filled.
  • Emergency medicine programs offered 1,744 positions, 76 more than last year, and filled all but three of them.
  • Anesthesiology programs offered 1,653 positions, 177 more than last year, and filled all but 62 of them.
  • Specialties with at least 50 positions in The Match that filled at least 80 percent of positions with U.S. seniors were dermatology, emergency medicine, medicine-pediatrics, neurological surgery, orthopedic surgery, otolaryngology, radiation oncology, general surgery, and plastic surgery.
This is the fourth consecutive year the number of medical students choosing family medicine has increased. “Although we’re pleased with this year’s Match, the growth has slowed,” Jeffrey Cain, MD, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, said. “If we’re going to successfully rebalance the health care workforce on primary care medicine, we need to build the number of U.S. medical school graduates choosing family medicine.
Of the applicants who matched, 78.8 percent of U.S. seniors and 78.8 percent of independent applicants matched to one of their top three choice programs. More than half of U.S. seniors and almost half of independent applicants matched to their first choice.

But this year’s high numbers in The Match still may not ward off a potential future shortage. “Workforce experts predict that the U.S. will face a shortage of 130,000 physicians across all specialties by 2025,” said Jeremy A. Lazarus, M.D., President of the American Medical Association. “This shortage will be exacerbated by the increased demand on our health care delivery system as more seniors enroll in Medicare and newly insured Americans seek access to care.”

“The American Medical Association applauds the leadership of Senators Bill Nelson, Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid and Representatives Aaron Schock and Allyson Schwartz for introducing legislation to address physician shortages and create additional GME positions to ensure patient access to care,” said Lazarus.  The bill would lift the 1997 legislation that capped the number of residency slots available and would create 15,000 new residencies around the country.

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(by Brad Broker)

One comment

  1. The story is misleading, false, and contains fraudulent information provided by medical schools. Also known as “the Dean’s Lie,” only about 20-25% of internal medicine residents remain in primary care (this is from the American College of Physicians, confirmed by JAMA study 2012;308(21):2241-2247, down from over 50% in 1998). Internal medicine residencies should not be considered primary care residencies if an overwhelming majority do not practice primary care. Moreover, for a more accurate measurement of primary care workforce production, the percent reported that match into primary care should be based on looking at match data from 5 years ago (2 years after residency training). When looking at this data, the overall primary care workforce is trending towards and below 30%, much lower than COGME’s recommended 40+ percent primary care workforce.

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