The number of medical residents training in the United States continues its upward trend, the AAMC 2022 Report on Residents shows.
In 2021, 149,296 medical residents trained in Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education accredited residency programs or fellowships across the United States, about 5,000 more than in 2020 and about 10,000 more than in 2019. Of those, nearly one-quarter graduated from medical school outside of the United States or Canada. Representation of women, Hispanic people, and Black people made small strides as the percentages of members of these historically underrepresented groups increased in the overall makeup of residents.
The report also shows that half of U.S. MD students changed their preferred specialty during medical school and slightly more than half of physicians who completed residency between 2012 and 2021 opted to continue practicing in the same state where they trained.
These are just a few of the findings in the 2022 Report on Residents, which the AAMC compiles annually to help residency applicants, residency directors, and researchers better understand changes in the experiences of medical residents over time. Below are selected findings from the report. More detailed data can be viewed here.
Diverse backgrounds and experiences
- Graduates of international medical schools — IMGs — made up almost 23% of medical residents in 2021, with about one-third of those specializing in internal medicine.
- Graduates of DO-granting schools accounted for about 17% of medical residents, with graduates of MD-granting schools accounting for 60% of all residents.
- Women are getting closer to accounting for half of all medical residents. Across all specialties, women accounted for 47.3% of residents in 2021, compared with 46.4% in 2020 and 45.8% in 2019. Women made up a larger percentage of residents in these specialties: family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, and psychiatry. Men were in the majority in such specialties as anesthesiology, emergency medicine, internal medicine, radiology, and surgery.
- While the race and ethnicity of residents varied across specialties, overall, 48.8% of U.S. citizen MD residents self-identified as White, 21.6% identified as Asian, 8.1% identified as Hispanic, 6.1% identified as Black or African American, 0.6% identified as American Indian or Alaska Native, and 0.2% identified as Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. This is a slight change over the previous year, when 50.0% of residents identified as White, 7.8% identified as Hispanic, and 5.8% identified as Black or African American. The other percentages remained relatively consistent.
Differences among specialties
- One hundred percent of residents specializing in orthopedic surgery, otolaryngology, plastic surgery, or urology who took the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam Step 2-CK passed on the first try.
- About half of U.S. MD medical students changed their preferred specialty over the course of medical school, with only 27.9% in 2022 saying they intended to pursue the same specialty they indicated at the beginning of medical school. The specialties that had the highest continuity of preference were orthopedic surgery (51.0%), pediatrics (44.7%), and neurological surgery (42.3%).
- Internal medicine was the most popular specialty, accounting for nearly 20% of all residents. Residents practicing in the infectious diseases subspecialty increased from 779 in 2018 to 836 in 2021.
- Over the past several years, 3.3% of active residents who graduated from an MD-granting school held dual MD-PhD degrees.
- Of people who completed residency between 2012 and 2021, 55.2% opted to continue practicing in the state where they completed their training, a figure down slightly from 57.1% in 2020. California had the highest retention rate, at 77.2%, with Wyoming having the lowest (38.3%) apart from the District of Columbia (36%).
- About 20% of people who completed residency training between 2012 and 2021 hold full-time faculty appointments, with 78.2% of those appointments being at the assistant professor level.