This year's class of U.S. medical school graduates again shied away from specialist careers, almost ignoring anesthesiology, radiology and pathology, according to the Washington-based National Resident Matching Program.
For the second consecutive year, the NRMP matched more than half of graduating medical seniors to generalist residencies at the nation's teaching hospitals. Of the 14,539 U.S. medical school seniors who secured residency positions last week through NRMP, 54.4% will spend their first year of residency training in family practice, internal medicine or pediatrics.
"There is evidence in this match that the needs of the healthcare marketplace are being responded to and medical school students are being counseled appropriately by U.S. medical schools to make correct career choices for this new environment," said Jordan Cohen, M.D., president of the Association of American Medical Colleges.
In 1995, 51% pursued generalist careers. That was the first time in seven years that medical seniors chose generalist over specialist fields.
Meanwhile, just 43 medical school seniors-a majority of them international medical school graduates-will enter first-year anesthesiology residencies this year. The number of medical seniors choosing anesthesiology careers dropped 54% from 93 in 1995.
It's the first time in the 44-year history of the program that foreign graduates outnumbered U.S. seniors in selecting an anesthesiology residency.
Foreign graduates are filling residency slots that U.S. graduates are not interested in, Cohen said. "It's not that they aren't qualified, but international medical schools don't have any accreditation process at any of these schools, and we (in the United States) have a process that is a good safeguard."
Only 3.5% of graduating seniors chose diagnostic radiology, anesthesiology or pathology careers. First-residency matches in diagnostic radiology dropped 27% to 243 seniors from 331 in 1995. Only 229 seniors-a decrease of 15%-will pursue pathology residencies, compared with 269 who did so in 1995.