Pediatric Rheumatology Match Still Lags Behind Adult Results

Jennifer Lubell

January 03, 2022

Rheumatologists seeking fellowships continue to show a preference for adult programs. Adult rheumatology programs filled nearly 100% of positions this year, but pediatric rheumatology programs filled only 69% of available slots, echoing trends of previous years.

The National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) issued results for 2021’s Medical Specialties Matching Program (MSMP) and Pediatric Specialties Match (PSM) in December.

“In pediatric rheumatology, like many other pediatric specialties, the limiting factor is the number of interested candidates. The number of available positions has not really changed over the last several years, but multiple positions again remained unfilled this year,” said Beth Marston, MD, chair of the American College of Rheumatology’s Committee on Rheumatology Training and Workforce Issues, in a statement.

Rheumatology was one of seven medical specialties that filled at least 95% of fellowship positions this year.

The specialty filled 120 of 125 enrolled programs (96%) and 266 of 272 certified positions (97.8%) in 2021. A total of 42.1% of the matched applicants comprised MD graduates, followed by foreign (27.1%), U.S. foreign (16.5%), and DO graduates (14.3%).

Among 357 applicants preferring this specialty in 2021, 73.9% (n = 264) matched to rheumatology. This meant that 22.1% did not match to any program. This scenario has played out over the last several years, Marston noted. Additional support for funding and the creation of more fellowship positions would translate to an increase in rheumatology graduates entering the workforce.

This could help mitigate workforce shortages that the ACR projected in 2015, she added.

Pediatric program applicants remain stagnant

For pediatric fellowships, the numbers weren’t as robust. Just 60% of 32 enrolled programs and 69.2% positions filled in 2021. MD graduates comprised most of the matched applicants (77.8%), followed by U.S. foreign (14.8%) and foreign and DO graduates (3.7% each). Overall, 27 out of 28 applicants or 96.4% matched to this specialty, a metric that’s remained steady but has not grown in recent years, Marston said.

This “suggests the need for additional efforts to understand and address barriers to choosing rheumatology fellowship training as a career path for pediatricians,” she said. The ACR’s Committee on Training and Workforce recently initiated a survey of combined medicine-pediatrics graduates in rheumatology to gain insights on why these graduates chose this career path.

The ACR is also looking into increasing access to rheumatology specialty care in underserved areas and finding creative solutions for increasing and filling rheumatology fellowship positions.

Largest match on record

Overall, 7,435 applicants participated in the 2021 MSMP, the largest on record. NRMP reported that 2,277 programs submitted rank order lists and offered 6,368 positions, an increase of more than 11% from 2020, respectively. A total of 90.4% positions (n = 5,759) were filled.

“The 2021 MSMP matched a record number of applicants to subspecialty training programs for positions set to begin July 2022,” NRMP President and CEO Donna L. Lamb, DHSc, MBA, said in a statement. “It’s rewarding to watch the MSMP grow, not only in terms of applicant interest and available training positions, but also from its launch 20 years ago with only three internal medicine subspecialties.”

NRMP largely attributed the increase in positions to the addition of critical care medicine, the latest subspecialty to join the MSMP. All fellows begin their training in July 2022.

The PSM also saw notable increases this year in several metrics. It offered 1,735 positions this year, a 5.9% increase from 2020. Overall, 1,507 positions (86.9%) were filled, a 6.6% increase from last year. 854 programs participated.

This story originally appeared on, part of the Medscape Professional Network.


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