Medical Fellowships

Top specialties for medical fellowship applicants: 2018 at a glance

Brendan Murphy , Senior News Writer

More physicians matched for medical fellowship positions in 2018 than any prior year on record, according to data reported by the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) Specialties Matching Service (SMS).

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The SMS 2018 appointment year—the report included data from 25 separate matches conducted in 2017 and early 2018 for fellowship appointments that started in July—consisted of 10,778 applicants competing for 10,149 fellowship positions offered by 4,357 programs. Applicants with degrees from U.S. allopathic medical school matched at an 89 percent rate, according to SMS data.

If you are researching medical fellowships, make sure to consult FREIDA™, which allows custom searches of thousands of fellowship programs to help you find a fellowship match. Besides searching by subspecialty, users can narrow their search by geographic area and program characteristics such as size and salary.

As has been typical in the fellowship match process in years past, subspecialties within internal medicine saw the biggest volume of applicants.

These positions were most popular:

  • Cardiovascular disease—1,261 applicants for 894 positions.
  • Pulmonary disease and critical care medicine—789 applicants for 568 positions.
  • Hematology and oncology—788 applicants for 553 positions.

Graduates of U.S. allopathic medical schools filled at least 50 percent of the positions in each of those fields.

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Other subspecialties that saw significant interest included:

  • Gastroenterology—759 applicants for 496 positions.
  • Pain medicine—438 applicants for 335 positions.
  • Sports medicine—364 applicants for 266 positions.

Looking at the specialties with the highest proportion filled by graduates of U.S. allopathic medical schools reveals how competitive they were.

The three most competitive subspecialties for fellowship applicants were:

  • Pediatric surgery: 92.9 percent U.S. allopathic grads.
  • Hand surgery: 90.6 percent
  • Female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery: 89.8 percent.

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  • Of the 10,778 applicants who submitted a rank order list of programs, 81 percent obtained positions.
  • The number of active U.S. allopathic medical school graduates totaled 6,002, a 4.1 percent rise over 2017.
  • The number of active U.S. osteopathic medical school graduates totaled 1,100, a 9.3 percent increase over 2017.
  • The number of active U.S. graduates of international medical schools (US-IMGs) totaled 1,326, a 4.9 percent drop from 2017, the first decline on record.