For Second Year, More U.S. Medical School Seniors Match to Primary Care Residencies

Washington, D.C., March 17, 2011-For the second year in a row, more U.S. medical school seniors will train as family medicine residents, according to new data released today by the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP).  The number of U.S. seniors matched to family medicine positions rose by 11 percent over 2010.  In Match Day ceremonies across the country today, these individuals will be among more than 16,000 U.S. medical school seniors who will learn where they are going to spend the next three to seven years of residency training.

Among primary care specialties, family medicine programs continued to experience the strongest growth in the number of positions filled by U.S. seniors.  In this year's Match, U.S. seniors filled nearly half of the 2,708 family medicine residency slots.  Family medicine also offered 100 more positions this year.

The two other primary care specialties that increased in popularity among U.S. seniors were pediatrics and internal medicine.  U.S. seniors matched to 1,768 of the 2,482 pediatric positions offered, a 3 percent increase over 2010.  In internal medicine, U.S. seniors filled 2,940 of 5,121 positions, an 8 percent increase over last year.

In addition to primary care, other specialties that increased the number of residency positions filled by U.S. seniors in this year's Match included emergency medicine, anesthesiology, and neurology.

For the first time, the total number of positions in the Match exceeded 26,000.  Overall, U.S. seniors' participation in the Match also increased with 16,559 applicants-489 more than 2010. 

The number of U.S. citizens who attended international medical schools (USIMGs) increased again this year, with 50 percent of the 3,769 registrants matching to positions.  In contrast, the number of non-U.S. citizen IMGs who registered for the Match declined for the second year in a row, down 587 from 2010.  Despite the change, 41 percent matched to positions-a slight increase from 2010.


The 2011 Match offered 23,421 first-year and 2,737 second-year residency positions-638 more positions overall than in 2010.  More than 95 percent (22,386) of the first-year positions were filled.

"We were pleased that this year's Match was able to offer more positions.  There will no doubt be wonderful cause for celebration at the nation's medical schools today and for all participants as they experience this defining moment in their careers as physicians," said Mona M. Signer, executive director of the NRMP.


According to the NRMP, the number of applicants in this year's Match also increased, with a total of 37,735 applicants participating-179 more than in 2010.

Other participants in the 2011 Match included:

  • 2,178 students and graduates of osteopathic (D.O. degree-granting) schools-an increase of 133 over 2010

  • 3,769 U.S. citizens and students from international medical schools-74 more individuals over 2010

Match Rate

This was the first year that the number of successful matches for U.S. seniors exceeded 15,000.  Slightly more than 94 percent of U.S. medical school seniors matched to a first-year residency position this year; 81 percent of those students matched to one of their top three choices.  Among all other types of participants, 80 percent matched to one of their top three choices.

Specialty Trends

Match results can be an indicator of career interests among U.S. medical school seniors.  Among the notable trends this year:

  • Dermatology, orthopaedic surgery, otolaryngology, plastic surgery, radiation oncology, thoracic surgery, and vascular surgery were the most competitive fields for applicants.  At least 90 percent of those positions were filled by U.S. medical school seniors.

  • The number of U.S. medical school seniors in emergency medicine increased by 7 percent and grew for the sixth year in a row, as they filled 1,268 of the 1,607 first-year positions available. 
  • Anesthesiology offered 44 more positions and matched 45 more U.S. seniors who filled 671 positions of the 841 offered.

Couples in the Match

There were 809 couples in the Match this year.  Participants who enter the Match as a couple agree to have their rank order lists of preferred residency programs linked to each other to ensure that they match to programs within the same geographic area, for instance.  This year, 739 couples both matched to their respective residency program preferences.  A couple is defined by the NRMP as any two applicants-regardless of the nature of their relationship-who participate in the Match as partners.

How the Match Works

Conducted annually by the NRMP, the Match uses a computerized mathematical algorithm to align the preferences of applicants with the preferences of residency programs in order to fill the residency training positions available at U.S. teaching hospitals.


The National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) is a private, not-for-profit organization established in 1952, at the request of medical students, to provide an orderly and fair mechanism to match the preferences of applicants to U.S. residency positions with the preferences of residency program directors for those applicants. The NRMP is sponsored by the American Board of Medical Specialties, the American Medical Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the American Hospital Association, and the Council of Medical Specialty Societies.