Preparing for Residency

Key data trends applicants should keep tabs on before Match Day

Brendan Murphy , Senior News Writer

AMA News Wire

Key data trends applicants should keep tabs on before Match Day

Mar 4, 2024

Driven by an award-winning algorithm, the Match is a science. Still, each year offers trends and variables, and each cycle is unique.

Ahead of Match Day 2024 on March 15, here are a few trends from recent years that applicants might want to be aware of.

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The number of applicants, positions and positions filled has been on a steady incline for a number of years, as reported by the National Resident Matching Program® (NRMP®), which runs the Match. With 40,375 positions available, the 2023 Match was the biggest on record. It also marked the 20th consecutive year in which the number of positions available through the Match increased. The first Match in 1953 had a total of 6,000 applicants. The figure has risen over the years, with the exception of a slight dip around the turn of the century. Since 2004, the number of applicants has continued to grow. In 2023, the number of applicants—42,952—was also an all-time high.

In recent years, the PGY-1 match rate for U.S. MD seniors has been 92–95%. The 2023 Match rate fell within that range, with U.S. MD seniors matching at a 93% clip.

Since the first combined Match in 2020 that created a system in which the vast majority of MD and DO applicants matched with residency programs through the same process—the number of DO applicants has grown each year. An all-time high of 7,436 U.S. DO seniors submitted rank-order lists of programs, and the 91.6% match rate was also a record high for that group.

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The number of emergency medicine positions has grown every year since the specialty joined the Match in 1983. As recently as 2021, the percentage of positions filled through the Match in the specialty was greater than 99%. Last year saw a notable drop in the fill rate for emergency medicine positions. It was the second consecutive year in which the Match rate decreased in the specialty, and the 81.6 percent Match rate was an 11-percentage point decrease from the prior year.

In an interview on “AMA Update” to discuss the 2023 Match dip in emergency medicine, Holly Caretta-Weyer, MD, associate residency program director of the Stanford University emergency medicine residency program, cited a list of potential reasons for the decrease in applicant interest. Those included a post-pandemic change in perception, lower staffing and increased patient load. She also touted the specialty as one of the most impactful for potential residents.

“If you want to take care of anyone, any time, any place without consideration as to their ability to pay, this is the specialty for you,” she said. “I didn't want to give up seeing kids. I didn't want to give up seeing adults. Surgical problems, medical problems, psychiatric problems. I wanted to be able to take care of anyone, any time, any place. If someone is sick on a plane, I wanted to be the person that they called. And that is still the reason to do emergency medicine.”

The Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program® (SOAP ®) is a vehicle through which eligible unmatched and partially matched applicants in the Main Residency Match ® apply for and are offered positions that were not filled when the matching algorithm was initially processed. Of the 2,658 positions placed in SOAP, 2,431 positions were filled. Like the Match itself, SOAP participation continues to increase.

The 2,659 applicants earning positions through SOAP in 2023 represents an increase of 320 from 2022 and the highest figure on record. Positions in SOAP were most frequently filled by graduates of U.S. MD medical schools, with 927 unique applicants from that demographic accepting positions. The second most common applicant type finding positions through SOAP was seniors from DO-granting medical schools (544), followed by 378 U.S. citizen international medical graduates (IMGs) and non-U.S. citizen IMGs (304).