The Good News and Bad News of the Residency Match


First, the good news: A record number of graduating medical students get their residency match this year, with 35,969 U.S. and international medical school students and graduates vying for 31,757 positions. The number of available first-year (PGY-1) positions rose to 28,849, which exceeded 2016 by 989 first-year positions, according to the National Resident Matching Program® (NRMP.)

Yet, the good news is tempered by this harsh reality: demand for physicians will continue to outstrip supply.  A projection by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) shows a shortage of 40,800 to 104,900 physicians by 2030.

The aging population has long been identified as the “perfect storm” that includes both higher medical utilization required for a growing population of older Americans and the accelerating rates of retirement among “baby boom” doctors.

New Challenges to Growing the Supply

To help address the shortage, in part, the U.S. relies on international medical graduates (IMGs) for a significant portion of patient care, including in medically underserved communities. They undergo rigorous screening by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates as part of the J-1 visa process.

However, the number of non-U.S. citizen IMGs who submitted program choices declined this year. Because NRMP doesn’t collect citizenship information during the Match registration process, they couldn’t correlate the declining number of non-US IMGs to the executive order on international travel. But it has raised concerns for physicians and educators, alike.

In a statement issued prior to the Match, AAMC’s President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD, urged “the administration, at a minimum, to promptly apply waiver and other discretionary authorities to all affected health professionals, including those international medical graduates matching to residency training programs on March 17 who are required to begin training and treating patients on or around July 1, 2017.”

A Proactive Recruitment Strategy is More Important than Ever

The combination of long-term demographic shifts, coupled with intermittent or unexpected geopolitical events, heightens the need for organizations to be proactive in their approach to recruitment.

Due to the shortage of graduating residents, high rates of current doctors reaching retirement age, and uneven distribution of doctors, the physician shortage isn’t likely to be resolved anytime soon. Competition among facilities will remain tight as they vie for new hires in a tight physicians’ market.

By forming a strategic physician recruitment plan, creating a rewarding workplace and strong organizational culture, and incorporating non-traditional practices, healthcare facilities can make smart hiring choices and avoid the physician gap within their own organization.

Working with an experienced search consultant can improve your competitive advantage by empowering you to find, hire and keep physicians to meet your community needs. Contact us to learn more.

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