Physician's Money Digest, July31 2003, Volume 10, Issue 14

A record number of residency positions were offered to a record number of applicants at the annual Match Day, which pairs applicants to residency positions at US teaching hospitals. The National Residency Matching Program (, which has been conducting the match since 1952, reported that almost 24,000 applicants, including more than 14,000 seniors from US medical schools, participated in the match. The match rate for US seniors seeking first-year residency positions was 93.2%, which is in line with the historical match rate of between 93% and 94%. The match rate for all the applicants was 78.5%.

How various specialties fared in the match is a closely watched indicator of trends in the medical field. The medical malpractice crisis, for example, is blamed for a drop in the fill rate for OB/GYN residency positions. There were 1151 open OB/GYN positions in 2003—13 more than in the previous year—but only 1050 positions were filled—17 less than in 2002. The OB/GYN fill rate by US seniors dropped to 68%, the lowest level in 5 years, down from 87% in 1999. Family practice also lost ground, filling 115 fewer residency positions than in 2002, with the fill rate by US seniors dropping to 42%, down from 47.2% this past year.

Specialties moving to the upside include pediatrics, which increased its fill rate for the fifth year in a row, and general surgery, which had a 99% fill rate, compared with 94.1% in 2002. Anesthesiology, pathology, and diagnostic radiology also had better fill rates compared to the previous year.