Match Day Reveals Slow Upward Creep in Primary Care Slots

March 18, 2016

Residency Match Day on March 18 came and went with the usual splash of big numbers. Almost 94% of seniors in US allopathic medical schools who submitted program preferences matched to a first-year (PGY-1) position. In all, a record number of 42,370 physicians in training competed for 30,750 positions divided among PGY-1 and PGY-2 positions at more than 4800 programs.

What might escape notice, however, is the continued slow rise in the number of PGY-1 primary care slots.

Of the 27,860 PGY-1 positions available this year, 13,744, or 49%, were in the primary care specialties of family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics, according to the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP). The number of these primary care slots has grown 22.4% since 2012, compared with 16% growth for all first-year slots. However, most of the increase in primary care slots came in 2013, when the number rose 13.2%. Since then, the annual growth rate for primary care positions has been between 2% and 3%.

Still, slow growth is better than no growth in a sector of medicine considered short-handed.


Growth in PGY-1 Positions in Primary Care Residency Programs

Programs Total Positions Increase Over 2015 Percentage Filled Filled by US Allopathic Medical-School Seniors
Family medicine 3238 43 95.2% 1467
Internal medicine 7024 254 98.8% 3291
Pediatrics 2689 21 99.5% 1829
Medicine-Pediatrics 386 6 99.5% 329
Designated primary care positions in internal medicine and pediatrics 407 -8 99.3% 244
Total 13,477 316 98.1% 7160

Source: NRMP


US Medical School Students and Grads Fill 75% of PGY-1 Positions

Current students and graduates of both allopathic and osteopathic medical schools in the United States matched to roughly 75% of all PGY-1 positions this year, a repeat of 2015, 2014, and 2013. The remainder of the slots were filled by graduates of international medical schools, including those in Canada.

Of 6638 graduates of international medical schools outside of Canada who filled first-year residency positions in 2016, 43% were US citizens and 57% were non-US citizens.

Some specialties enjoyed remarkable success in filling their PGY-1 slots, according to the NRMP. Dermatology, orthopedic surgery, radiation-oncology, and vascular surgery had a total of 809 slots, and each one had a match. Emergency medicine fell one short of filling its 1895 slots. In contrast, of the 3238 PGY-1 slots available in family medicine, 73 went empty. Internal medicine saw 26 of its 7024 slots missing in action.

More information on the results of Match Day 2016 are available on the NRMP website.


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