By Sasmit Sarangi
There has been a lot of attention on the increasing difficulty for IMGs in the Match. A large part of this fear has been precipitated by the observed trend of increasing numbers of IMG applicants coupled with a lack of increase in residency positions. This was first highlighted here and has also been noted on several diverse sources and social media platforms. There is a lot of concern among many IMGs that the situation could become so bad in 2015 that even US graduates would find it hard to match.
The NRMP has released large amounts of data about the match, including the 2014 match. Going through these documents, I felt that there are a number of interesting figures which could help future applicants. The number of active applicants for PGY-1 positions in the 2014 Match (34,270 applicants) actually had a very small decrease of 80 applicants in comparison to 2013. This is in contrast to the 2013 Match where there was an increase of more than 3000 applicants, year on year. Also, the number of matched PGY-1 applicants increased from 73.5% to 75% in 2014. The number of active US seniors and previous US graduates stayed at roughly the same number of around 19,000. The total number of non-US citizen students/graduates of international medical schools had a decline of around 200 applicants this year.
Looking specifically at the number of positions offered in various specialties, we can clearly discern that a majority of them either had no change or a small increase in the number of positions. The total number of available PGY-1 positions increased by 540 to a total of 26,678. It is also clear that several specialties matched at least 25% non-US seniors in 2014. This includes anesthesiology, family medicine, internal medicine (categorical), pediatrics (categorical) and psychiatry (categorical). It is important to keep in mind that the general group of non-US seniors includes previous US graduates, IMGs, and osteopathic graduates. Surgical branches are particularly difficult for IMGs to match in and no discernible improvements can be seen in the trends from 2010-2014.
In light of a rapidly aging population, more doctors will be required in the US healthcare system and new residency positions would need to be quickly created to keep up with the rapidly rising demand. As can be seen by several of the numbers that I have stated here, the dire situation of having more US applicants than the total available positions is definitely not going to happen in 2015. However, the match still remains a daunting challenge for many IMGs and this can be clearly seen by the fact that around 50% of them, including both US-citizen IMGs and non-US citizens remain unmatched. However, the number of applicants has been roughly the same this year and if you are looking to apply this coming season it is definitely good news. Hopefully I have managed to shake the “voodoo of 2015” from all your minds and please feel free to ask any questions in the comments below.