As the National Resident Matching Program marks its biggest match day ever, the American College of Physicians is lamenting the declining number of U.S. medical students who have chosen to pursue internal medicine.
Of 15,638 U.S. medical school seniors paired with residencies today, 2,632 are studying internal medicine. The figure has declined about 1% in each of the past two years and more than 30% since 1985. As many as three quarters of the students entering residencies in internal medicine intend to ultimately practice in subspecialties such as cardiology or oncology, compared with roughly half 10 years ago, according to the ACP.
Steven Weinberger, M.D., ACPs senior vice president for medical education and publishing, said in a news release that the trend comes at a particularly bad time, coinciding with an aging population that will require growing ranks of general internists and other primary care physicians. Weinberger reiterated ACPs call for Medicare to raise reimbursement for the care that primary-care physicians provide.
The nearly 30,000 applicants vying for 22,427 first-year shots in the match this year represented a 4% increase over 2008 and included 400 more U.S. students, which the program attributes to medical schools expanding in anticipation of a coming physician shortage. The most competitive specialties were neurological surgery, orthopedic surgery and otolaryngology.