Match Day 2017 Review
By Tom Florence
Match Day 2017 served up some good news and some not so good news for those concerned by the prospect of ongoing physician shortages in America.
Match Day is the day in March when medical school graduates from both the United States and many countries abroad learn the location and specialty of the residency programs where they will train for the next three to seven years. It is a source of great joy to many medical school graduates who match to the programs they applied for and a source of disappointment to others who do not.
The good news is that a record-high 18,539 U.S. allopathic medical school seniors submitted program choices to the Match, and of these, 17,480 were accepted, for a match rate of 94.3%, according to a press release from the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP).
An additional 3,590 U.S. osteopathic seniors submitted program choices, an increase of 608 over 2016, and 2,933 (81.7%) matched, also a record high. Family medicine programs offered 3,356 positions, 209 more than in 2016, and 3,215 (95.8%) of positions were filled.
For non-U.S. medical school graduates the news is not so good. Of the 5,069 U.S. citizen international medical graduates (IMGs) who submitted program choices, only 54.8% matched. Of the 7,284 non-U.S. citizen IMGs who submitted program choices, only 52.4% matched.
Some of the medical school seniors, both U.S. graduates and IMGs, who did not match initially will find a program through the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP). But the fact remains that there are many more medical school seniors applying to the Match than there are openings at residency programs. Even some U.S. allopathic graduates now do not match and may find their path to becoming a practicing physician blocked.
The bottleneck is the cap placed by Congress two decades ago on Medicare funding for Graduate Medical Education (GME). While the number of U.S. medical graduates has increased by over 27% from 2002 to 2016, the number of residency positions has increased by less than 8%. Until the cap is removed, the supply of physicians being trained is unlikely to keep pace with demand for medical services, and medical school graduates, including many U.S. grads, will be unable to find a training program.
I would be interested to learn what others think of this year’s Match results and what can be done to address looming physician shortages.
Tom Florence is Senior Vice President of Merritt Hawkins, the nation’s leading physician search firm and a company of AMN Healthcare. He can be reached here or at 800-876-0500.
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