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National Resident Matching Program touts record high number of U.S., international competitors, positions for aspiring physicians

NRPM attributed the increases primarily to growth in U.S. allopathic medical school seniors, students/graduates of U.S. osteopathic medical schools.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

This year's National Resident Matching Program made history, with a record-high 35,969 U.S. and international medical school students and graduates competing for 31,757 positions. That is the most ever offered in the Match, NRMP said.

Match Day is when applicants open letters informing them of the location and specialty of the U.S. residency programs where they will train for the next three to seven years.

NRPM attributed the increases primarily to growth in U.S. allopathic medical school seniors and students/graduates of U.S. osteopathic medical schools.

The number of U.S. MD medical school senior registrants bested last year's count by 19,030. A record-high 18,539 submitted program choices, and 17,480 matched to first-year positions.

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The number of U.S. osteopathic medical school applicants also set a record at 5,000, with 3,590 submitting program choices. That constituted an increase of 608 over 2016, and 2,933 matched to PGY-1 positions, another record high.

However, there were decreases in the influx of international aspiring physicians submitting choices. NRMP data showed the number of U.S. citizen international medical school students and graduates, known as IMGs, who submitted program choices declined by 254 to 5,069. The number of non-U.S. citizen IMGs who submitted program choices declined as well, from 7,460 in 2016 to 7,284 this year.

Those decreases are accompanied by high match rates however, with 54.8 percent of U.S. citizen international med students and graduates matching to PGY-1 positions, the highest match rate since 2004. Similarly, 52.4  percent of non-citizen IMGs matched to first-year positions, the highest match rate since 2005.

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Breaking down the Match areas, Internal Medicine programs offered 7,233 positions, an increase of 209 over 2016. Of those, 98.2 percent of positions were filled, 44.9 percent with U.S. med school seniors.

Family Medicine programs offered 3,356 positions, filling 3,215 of them, 45.1 percent filled with U.S. MD-seeking seniors. NRMP noted that since 2012, the number of U.S. allopathic seniors matching to Family Medicine has gone up every year. Pediatrics programs offered 2,738 positions, and filled 2,693 of them.

Emergency Medicine opened 2,047 first-year positions, an increase of 152 over 2016, and filled all but six. That amounted to an overall fill rate of 99.7 percent. Since 2012, the number of Emergency Medicine positions has swelled by 23 percent.

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Psychiatry offered 1,495 first-year positions, and filled all but four, also following a trend of increases since 2012 wherein the number of Psychiatry positions rose by 378, or 34 percent.

The specialties with the highest fill rates by U.S. seniors were Integrated Plastic Surgery with 93.1 percent U.S. seniors, Orthopedic Surgery  with 91.9 percent U.S. seniors and Otolaryngology  with 91.5 percent U.S. seniors.

Twitter: @BethJSanborn