The National Resident Matching Program, which has matched applicants with U.S. medical residency positions annually since 1952, this year placed its highest percentage of positions ever with 99.4% of the 29,171 available slots filled.
The NRMP's Main Residency Match is a two-part process that begins when the NRMP matches applicants to graduate medical education programs by processing and aligning the rank order lists of applicants and residency program directors using a computerized mathematical algorithm.
“After the NRMP matching algorithm was processed, only 1,041 positions were unfilled, and 939 were placed in the Match Week Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program—the process used by NRMP for unfilled residency positions,” Mona Signer, executive director of NRMP (PDF)
, said in a release.
In 2012, 95.3% of positions were placed, with 25,526 positions filled out of 26,772 offered.
During SOAP, the second part of the process that occurs the third week of March, unmatched applicants try to fill the remaining available slots. This year, of the 939 positions available through SOAP, 662 were accepted by U.S. allopathic seniors and prior-year allopathic medical school graduates. Osteopathic students and graduates filled 90 of those positions, and 126 were taken by students and graduates of international medical schools. Just 61 residency openings remained at SOAP's conclusion, with the fewest remaining—just one each—in dermatology, pathology, radiology and radiation oncology. Child neurology had 17 openings.
“More than 13,000 applicants were eligible to participate in SOAP because they were fully or partially matched,” Signer said in the release.
According to Signer, 2,076 of those were U.S. allopathic seniors, 980 of whom were completely unmatched. By the end of the Match, 452 of those 980 had accepted positions, leaving 528 U.S. seniors without a match.
Though this figure was higher this year than the last, it doesn't come as a surprise to Signer because the number of U.S. seniors competing in the match had risen by nearly 1,000 between 2012 and 2013.
“There are many reasons why applicants don't match,” Signer said, pointing out that some program directors will not rank applicants who haven't yet passed the medical licensure qualifying exams before the match starts.
“Some overestimate their qualifications and apply only to very competitive specialties,” Signer said. “If they don't apply to and rank programs in less competitive specialties, they are in danger of not matching.”