As has recently become customary, this year’s medical residency match, announced Friday, set a new record for numbers of applicants and positions for them to fill, according to the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), with increased participation from osteopathic schools and their graduates getting much of the credit.
Match Day 2019 saw a total of 38,367 applicants submitting program choices who competed for 35,185 spots, the organization said. Those numbers compare to 37,103 and 33,167, respectively, in 2018 — which the NRMP also said was a record.
“The number of available first-year (PGY-1) positions rose to 32,194, an increase of 1,962 (6.5%) over 2018,” the group noted.
That was partly due to many osteopathic medical programs joining the Main Residency Match, the NRMP said. Residency programs are moving toward a unified, single match for all medical graduates, allopathic and osteopathic.
Just under half of the PGY-1 positions were in primary care fields, with the total number — 15,946 — representing a 7.8% increase over the number available in 2018. All but 591 were filled; about 46% of the spots were taken by U.S. allopathic graduates. Within the primary care field, the NRMP reported the following totals:
- Internal medicine: 8,116 positions, 7,892 filled, 97.2% fill rate
- Family medicine: 4,107 positions, 3,827 filled, 93.2% fill rate
- Pediatrics: 2,847 positions, 2,778 filled, 97.6% rate
The NRMP also highlighted that emergency medicine programs had offered 2,488 positions and filled all but 30; radiation oncology programs left 15% of its 192 positions unfilled; and psychiatry boasted one of the highest fill rates, 98.9%, for its 1,740 positions. Total psychiatric residency spots have risen 29% since 2015, the NRMP noted.
Specialties with relatively few U.S. allopathic seniors matching into positions included family medicine (39%), internal medicine (42%), pathology (33%), and surgery-preliminary (24%).
Registrants in 2019, including those who didn’t submit program preferences, totalled 44,603 (another record). These included 7,090 from osteopathic schools, a 17% increase from last year.
U.S. citizens graduating from international medical schools who submitted program choices numbered 5,080, virtually unchanged from a year ago, and 59% of them matched to PGY-1 positions. That’s the highest rate in nearly 30 years, the NRMP said.
Meanwhile, fewer non-U.S. citizen foreign medical school graduates participated in 2019 versus the prior year. It’s the third straight year of declines, the NRMP said. The total number this year was 6,869, of whom 59% matched to PGY-1 positions.
Graduates who didn’t land a residency position in the Main Match get another chance in the NRMP’s Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program, better known as SOAP. Of the 1,768 positions that went unfilled in the match, 1,652 are available in SOAP this year. Those results are to be released in early May.
The NRMP had previously announced that yet another record was set in 2019 with physician fellowship matches, which had 11,467 applicants competing for 10,936 spots. “At 89.4%, the [fellowship] match rate for U.S. allopathic medical school graduates tied with the highest rate on record, set for the 2016 appointment year,” the organization said.