U.S. Medical Seniors Enjoy Highest Match Rate Ever
Last month, more than 23,000 applicants in the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) found out which residency program they will enter for training. Data from this year’s residency match, which serves as an indicator of career interests among medical school graduates, shows a decrease in applicants matched to generalist positions such as family practice, pediatrics and internal medicine. Interest in certain medical specialties — including anesthesiology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and diagnostic radiology — appears to be on the rise, with more matches in each specialty.
The “match,” conducted annually by the NRMP, is the primary system that matches applicants to residency programs with available positions at U.S. teaching hospitals. There were 23,459 active applicants in the 2002 match, including 14,336 U.S. medical school seniors. Active U.S. medical school senior applicants enjoyed the highest percentage of matches to first year residency positions, with a 94.1 percent match rate.
Results from the 2002 match indicate a decrease in residency positions filled in six primary care specialties: family practice, internal medicine, pediatrics, medicine-pediatrics, internal medicine primary and pediatrics primary. There were 373 fewer U.S. seniors filling these generalist residency positions, with 205 less positions filled overall; international medical graduates made up the difference with 116 more matches to these positions than last year.
Some specialty areas experienced an increase in match rates compared to last year. Among these specialties are: anesthesiology, with a fill rate of 95.1 percent, a 7 percent increase over last year; and physical medicine and rehabilitation, for which the fill rate increased from 77.3 percent to 90.4 percent.
There was a slight decrease this year in the number of U.S. medical school seniors matching to general surgery positions. Although the number of available general surgery positions remained largely unchanged since 2001, the number of U.S. seniors filling those positions dropped from 820 in 2001 to 782 this year.
The National Residency Matching Program was established in 1952 to provide an orderly and fair mechanism to match the preferences of applicants for U.S. residency positions with residency program choices of applicants. The program provides a common time for the announcement of the appointments, an agreement for programs and applicants to honor the commitment to offer and accept an appointment if a match results.
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