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Primary Care Gaining Popularity In Residency Matches

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, March 21, 2011

The number of U.S. medical school students who will enter family medicine residency positions rose 11% over 2010, the second year of increase of these positions in a row, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges.

In this year's National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), there are 2,708 family medicine residency slots and nearly half of those will be filled with U.S. medical school seniors.

Two other primary care specialties, pediatrics and internal medicine, were more in demand as well. U.S. seniors matched to 1,768 of 2,482 pediatric positions and filled 2,940 of 5,121 internal medicine positions. Those were a 3% and an 8% increase, respectively, over last year's students.

For the first time, the total number of positions in the Match exceeded 26,000.  Overall, U.S. seniors’ participation in the Match also increased with 16,559 applicants—489 more than 2010. 

The association said that this was the first year the number of successful matches for U.S. seniors exceeded 15,000.

"We were pleased that this year’s Match was able to offer more positions.  There will no doubt be wonderful cause for celebration at the nation’s medical schools today and for all participants as they experience this defining moment in their careers as physicians,” said Mona M. Signer, executive director of the NRMP.

Emergency medicine, anesthesiology, and neurology positions filled by U.S. students also increased this year.

The number of U.S. seniors who attended international medical schools also increased, with 50% of the 3,760 registrants matching to positions, and the number of non-U.S. citizen international medical school graduates who registered declined, also for the second year in a row, by 587.

Other trends noted in this year 's match include the following:

• Competition was most intense for dermatology, orthopedic surgery, otolaryngology, plastic surgery, radiation oncology, thoracic and vascular surgery. At least 90% of those positions were filled by U.S. medical school seniors.

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