AMA Wire

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

For Residents

Match rate for fourth-year students highest in 30 years

More than 95 percent of the nation's fourth-year allopathic medical school students matched to residency positions in this year's Main Residency Match, the highest match rate for this group in 30 years, according to data released by the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP).

U.S. allopathic medical school seniors made up 15,712 of the 22,934 applicants who matched to first-year positions, the NRMP said. A total of 38,377 people worldwide applied for 26,772 U.S. residency positions, up 642 applicants from 2011 and more than 2,400 applicants during the past five years. A total of 1,764 students and graduates of U.S. osteopathic schools also received first-year residency positions.

A total of 26,772 positions were offered in this year's Match, an increase of 614 from last year, and positions in internal medicine, anesthesiology, and emergency medicine grew the most. While positions in family medicine increased notably during the past two years, they grew by only 1.1 percent this year.

Darrell G. Kirch, MD., president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges, said in a statement that the slight increase in positions was encouraging. However, concerns remain that the increases are insufficient to meet the nation's health care needs and to alleviate future physician shortages, he said.

"The AAMC urges Congress and the Obama administration to do their part and increase funding for Medicare-supported residency positions," Dr. Kirch said. "Cutting the deficit is important, but sustained investment in doctor training is critical to the health of all Americans."

This year's Match included the debut of the NRMP's Match Week Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program, a new system designed to automate, streamline and equalize the process for unmatched applicants seeking unfilled positions. Learn more about the program and other changes in this year's Match.

View American Medical News' coverage of this year's Match.

Pressure increasing to reform GME financing

Few issues are more important to residents and fellows than the future financing of graduate medical education (GME). With debates swirling about the budget deficit, changes are being considered that may impact the $9.5 billion a year that Medicare spends on GME.

Proposed changes include reducing federal support, developing new achievement measures for which GME programs should be held accountable, and seeking independent assessment of the governance and financing of training programs. An article in the New England Journal of Medicine examines these recommendations, which come at a time when Congress and the White House will soon resume their close scrutiny of federal programs in an effort to reduce the massive federal deficit.

The AMA continues to press policymakers to protect GME funding. In a recent blog post, AMA President Peter W. Carmel, MD, noted the growing concern about a projected physician shortage and the fallout for the availability of patient care. One simple solution could help ease this problem, he wrote: expanding GME.

"We're working closely with the [Association of American Medical Colleges] to ensure Congress understands the importance of funding to allow medical schools and teaching hospitals to train physicians and provide critical services to patients," Dr. Carmel wrote.

The AMA also has supported a federal bill that would add 15,000 training positions over five years, and it continues to work on state-level strategies to address GME funding and the physician shortage.

"Without increased GME funding, we'll continue to waste the talent of thousands of medical graduates and watch the physician shortage rise," Dr. Carmel wrote.