Residency Match sees continued growth in primary care

More than 17,000 U.S. medical school seniors and graduates learn where they will spend their years of residency training.

By Carolyne Krupa — Posted March 17, 2011

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The number of U.S. medical school seniors who will begin residency training in family medicine in July 2011 climbed 11.3% over 2010, marking the second consecutive year of growth in the field. Growth also was seen in the number of U.S. seniors pursuing first-year residency training in other primary care fields, according to preliminary data from the National Resident Matching Program.

U.S. seniors filled 1,301 family medicine positions, up from 1,169 in 2010. In 2011, 48% of available family medicine slots were filled by U.S. seniors, up from 44.8% in 2010. Meanwhile, internal medicine matches for U.S. seniors increased 8%, to 2,940 from 2,722, and also grew for a second straight year. In 2011, 57.4% of available internal medicine residency slots were filled by U.S. seniors, up from 54.5% in 2010. In both internal and family medicine, a greater percentage of slots were filled even as the overall number of available positions increased.

Overall, 2011 was the first year that the number of successful matches for U.S. seniors passed the 15,000 mark, representing a match rate of 94%. Of those, 81% matched to one of their top three choices.

"We were pleased that this year's Match was able to offer more positions," Mona M. Signer, NRMP executive director, said in a statement. "There will no doubt be wonderful cause for celebration at the nation's medical schools today and for all participants as they experience this defining moment in their careers as physicians."

More than 17,000 seniors and graduates of U.S. allopathic and osteopathic medical schools simultaneously ripped open envelopes containing their residency assignments at noon Central Daylight Time March 17 for annual Match Day ceremonies hosted by medical schools nationwide.

Data released by the NRMP showed a 7.3% bump in first-year emergency medicine residency positions filled by U.S. seniors, from 1,182 in 2010 to 1,268 this year. The most competitive slots were dermatology, orthopedic surgery, otolaryngology, plastic surgery, radiation oncology, thoracic surgery and vascular surgery, according to the NRMP. At least 90% of the available residency slots in each of those specialties were filled by U.S. seniors.

Overall, the number of U.S. seniors entering their first year of residency training increased to 15,588 over 14,992 last year, continuing a steady climb in recent years fueled largely by the opening of new medical schools and the expansion of existing medical schools.

Such expansions have led to a 9.7% increase in the number of U.S. seniors entering internships during the past five years.

The overall number of residency positions filled by U.S. medical school seniors and graduates nationwide, including those entering both first- and second-year residency positions, increased by 630, or 3.7%, over 2010 to 17,607 this year. The 2011 Match offered 23,421 first-year and 2,737 second-year positions, 638 more overall than 2010. Overall, 37,735 applicants -- 179 more than in 2010 -- participated in the Match, a total that includes foreign graduates of international medical schools and U.S. citizens who attended medical school abroad.

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