Skip to Content

Record Number of Residency Positions Offered, Filled in 2003 Match

Washington, D.C., March 20, 2003—At noon today, almost 24,000 applicants in the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) learned which residency program they will enter for training. A record high number of residency positions were offered in the 2003 Match; this was accompanied by an all time high in the number of applicants matched to residency positions. Data from each year's residency match serves as an indicator of career interests among medical school graduates.

The "Match", conducted annually by the NRMP, is the primary system that matches the preferences of applicants with the preferences of residency programs that offer available training positions at U.S. teaching hospitals. There were 23,965 active applicants in the 2003 match, over 500 more participants than last year. Of those active applicants, 14,332 were U.S. medical school seniors. Although the number of U.S. senior participants did not significantly change from the previous year, the number of non-U.S. citizen international medical graduates increased 10 percent over last year, reversing a 5-year decline.

This year the match rate for U.S. medical school seniors seeking first year residency (PGY-1) positions was 93.2, which means that 93 percent of U.S. senior participants were successfully matched to an open position in a participating residency program. The match rate for U.S. seniors is usually between 93 and 94 percent. The match rate for all 2003 applicants was 78.5 percent.

Although there were 17 fewer residency programs participating in this year's match, the number of offered positions increased by 450, including an increase of over 300 available PGY-1 positions.

Specialty Highlights:

  • Family practice experienced 115 fewer matches than last year, with a fill rate of 76.3 percent. U.S. seniors filled 42 percent of the family practice positions offered, down from 47.2 percent in 2002.
  • The overall fill rate for internal medicine was 95.1 percent, up slightly from last year. U.S. seniors filled 55.2 percent of the internal medicine positions offered in the Match, a decrease from 58.7 percent in 2002.
  • Pediatrics continued its five-year trend of placing more positions in the match and experienced an overall 93.8 percent fill rate for 2003.
  • Surgery increased its overall fill rate from 94.4 percent last year to 99 percent in 2003. This year U.S. seniors filled 82.7 percent of PGY-1 surgery positions - up from 75.3 percent in 2002.
  • Anesthesiology experienced a fill rate of 96.3 percent for its PGY-1 positions, with 40 more matches than last year. It also experienced a 95.6 percent fill rate for PGY-2 (second year residency) positions.
  • Diagnostic radiology PGY-1 positions filled at a rate of 97.8 percent, compared to 94.7 percent in 2002. The fill rate for PGY-2 positions in diagnostic radiology was 99.8 percent.
  • The overall fill rate for pathology increased from 83.7 percent in 2002 to 90.1 percent in 2003. The rate for U.S. seniors matching into pathology positions increased from 49.7 percent in 2002 to 59.8 percent in 2003.

There were 575 couples in the 2003 match, the highest number in history. A couple is defined as any two applicants who participate in the match as partners. This year the match rate for couples was 93.9 percent.

The Match Week process began Monday, March 17, when applicants were informed whether they had been matched to a residency program, though the name of the program was not provided. On Tuesday, March 18, the locations of all unfilled residency programs were released to unmatched applicants, who then contacted the programs about the open positions. Today, matched applicants learned where they will spend their years of residency training. A resident is an educated physician who has graduated from medical school and is undertaking a 3-7 year long period of specialized training in a medical specialty.

The National Resident Matching Program was established in 1952 to provide an orderly and fair mechanism to match the preferences of applicants for U.S. residency positions with residency program choices of applicants. The program provides a common time for the announcement of the appointments, as well as an agreement for programs and applicants to honor the commitment to offer and accept an appointment if a match results.


The National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) is a private, not-for-profit organization established in 1952, at the request of medical students, to provide an orderly and fair mechanism to match the preferences of applicants to U.S. residency positions with the preferences of residency program directors for those applicants.