A record number of medical residency positions were offered this year, and more slots were filled by seniors from U.S. medical schools and U.S. citizens who graduated from foreign schools. The annual residency match also showed new doctors' increased interest in primary-care training programs.
More students opt for primary-care residencies
The record 26,158 residency positions included 12,421 first-year and 2,737 second-year positions. According to the National Resident Matching Program, it was the first time that more than 26,000 positions were offered and a 2.5% increase over last year's 25,520 slots. This included 112 more internal-medicine positions in addition to 100 more family-medicine slots, 51 more in emergency medicine, 45 more in anesthesiology and 38 more in neurology.
The number of residency-match applicants increased less than 0.5% to 37,735. Among them were 16,559 seniors from U.S. medical schools—a 3% increase over last year's figure of 16,070—and 3,760 U.S. citizens registering who graduated from foreign schools.
According to the NRMP, more than 95% of the first-year residency positions were filled. The NRMP noted that 2,555 family-medicine positions, or 94.4% of available positions, were filled this year, versus 2,384 (91.4%) filled last year. More internal-medicine slots were filled this year, too—5,065 versus 4,947 in 2010. The number of applicants from U.S. schools increased 11.3% for family medicine and 8% for internal medicine.
"This year's results mark the second consecutive year of increased interest in family medicine," said Dr. Roland Goertz, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, in an AAFP news release. "Although several factors likely contribute to the increase, we believe an important element is recognition that primary-care medicine is absolutely essential if we are to improve the quality of healthcare and help control its costs. Of course, sustaining this interest will require continuing changes in the way America pays for and delivers healthcare to patients."
Dr. Stephen Weinberger, executive vice president and CEO of the American College of Physicians internal medicine society, noted that further increases are needed to combat a primary-care workforce shortage.
"We're cautiously optimistic and hope that the positive trend continues," Weinberger said in an ACP release. "But the U.S. still has to overcome a generational shift that resulted in decreased numbers of students choosing primary care as a career."
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.