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U.S. Medical School Seniors Apply to Residency Programs in Record Numbers

Match Participation of U.S. Grads at 20-Year High

Washington, D.C., March 17, 2005—Students in their final year of study at medical schools across the nation will today experience a rite of passage shared by physicians-in-training for more than a half-century—Match Day. More than 14,700 U.S. medical school seniors applied for residency positions through the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) this year, the highest number in almost 20 years.

"The growing number of participants each year demonstrates continued confidence in the Match process and illustrates just how important the Match is for medical education," said NRMP President Melissa Thomas, M.D., Ph.D.

The Match, conducted annually by the NRMP, uses a computer algorithm to match the preferences of applicants with the preferences of residency programs, in order to fill the available training positions at U.S. teaching hospitals.

U.S. medical school seniors constituted 58 percent of all applicants in the 2005 Match. The NRMP also receives applications from graduates of foreign medical schools, students from osteopathic (D.O. degree) schools, and others. This year more than 25,300 total applicants participated in the Match.

The 2005 Match broke records this year for the number of residency positions offered and filled-a total of 24,012 positions were available and 22,221 of them were filled. The number of successful matches made continued to be high, with 78 percent of all applicants matched to a first-year residency program. Nearly 83 percent of all matched applicants were paired with one of their top three residency program choices. As in previous years, U.S. medical school seniors enjoyed a higher success rate than other applicants, with 93.7 percent matching and more than 86 percent of those students assigned to one of their top three choices.

Match data can indicate career interests among residency program applicants. Highlights of the choices made by U.S. medical school seniors include:

  • First-year residency positions in dermatology, emergency medicine, general surgery, orthopaedic surgery, and plastic surgery remain highly competitive. At least 95 percent of the available positions in these specialties were filled; 80 percent or more of these slots were taken by U.S. medical school seniors.
  • The number of first-year family practice positions available through the Match continues to decline (3,183 positions in 2000 to 2,761 positions in 2005), as does U.S. medical school seniors' interest in these positions. The number of these positions filled by graduating U.S. medical students decreased for the eighth consecutive year.
  • There is increased interest in psychiatry residencies. For the fourth consecutive year there has been an increase in the number of first-year positions offered and filled by U.S. medical school seniors.
  • Slightly more than one half (56 percent) of first-year internal medicine positions were filled by U.S. medical school seniors. Internal medicine is the largest specialty represented in the Match; one fifth of all first-year residency positions offered are in internal medicine.

On Monday of this week, applicants were informed whether they had been matched to a residency program of their choice, although the name of that program was not provided. On Tuesday, the locations of remaining unfilled residency programs were released to unmatched applicants, who then contacted the programs about the open positions. Today, typically at "Match Day" ceremonies held at their medical schools, matched applicants will learn where they will spend at least their first year of residency training.

The Match was established in 1952, at the request of medical students, to provide a fair and impartial transition to the graduate medical education experience necessary for all physicians.

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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.

2005 Match Data

More than 14,700 U.S. medical school seniors applied for residency positions through the NRMP this year, the highest number in almost 20 years.

View the data