More on Workforce

National Resident Match Program's record-breaking year mirrors reported trends in workforce shortages

More positions are being offered in family medicine, a specialty already suffering from a shortage slated to get worse over the next decade.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

The National Resident Matching Program posted a record-breaking year, with 43,909 aspiring physicians registering with the system. This year also saw increases in the number of internal, family and emergency medicine positions offered, mirroring national trends that point to current primary care physician shortages.

A little more than 33,000 positions were offered through the NRMP, including 30,232 first year positions, an increase of 1,383 over 2017. Of the first year positions offered, 14,695 were in the primary care specialties of internal medicine and family medicine. Internal Medicine programs offered 7,542 positions, an increase of 309 over 2017, and 97.6 percent of the positions were filled.   

Family Medicine programs offered 3,629 positions, 273 more than in 2017, and 3,510 of those positions were filled.  Pediatrics programs offered 2,768 positions and 2,711, or about 98 percent of those were filled. 

Finally, emergency medicine offered 230 more positions than last year, with 2,278 offered and all but 13 filled. 

"Since 2014, the number of emergency medicine positions has increased by 492, or 27.5 percent...The results of the Match are closely watched because they can be predictors of future physician workforce supply," NRMP said in a statement.

The number of U.S. citizen international medical school students and graduates who submitted program choices remained relatively flat at 5,075, but this group saw the highest match rate since 1993 at 57.1 percent matched to PGY-1 positions.  

The number of non-U.S. citizen IMGs who participated in the Match declined for the second consecutive year. In 2018, 7,067 IMGs submitted program choices, down 217 from 2017 and 393 from 2016. 

It's unclear whether political wranglings over immigration in the last year had an adverse effect on the number of IMGs registering with the system.

"We can't say for certain that the immigration restrictions have been the cause, but it seems likely," said Mona Singer, NRMP president and CEO.

Twitter: @BethJSanborn
Email the writer: