Match Day 2024: Record number of applicants, residency positions

The upcoming crop of soon-to-be physicians learned on Friday where they would spend their residencies.

Match Day 2024 saw record-high applicants and residency positions offered.

The 2024 Main Residency Match was the largest yet in the National Resident Matching Program's 72-year history, with 44,853 applicants and 41,503 certified positions across 6,395 residency training programs.

The number of registered applicants, at 50,413, hit an all-time high. That marks an increase of 2,257 applicants, or 4.7% over last year, according to data from NRMP, the organization that facilitates Match Day.

The rise in applicants was driven largely by an increase of 1,986 non-U.S. citizen international medical graduates and 623 osteopathic (DO) seniors over last year.

Among all registrants, close to 45,000 certified a rank order list of training preferences, the highest number on record and an increase of 1,901 or 4.4% over last year, NRMP reported. Of the applicants who certified a rank order list, 35,984 matched to a post-graduate year 1 (PGY-1) position, an increase of 1,162 applicants from last year. The PGY-1 match rate was 80.2%.

“The NRMP is proud to deliver the results of another successful Main Residency Match, and we congratulate all future physicians and training programs on this momentous occasion,” says NRMP president and CEO Donna L. Lamb in a statement. “We are especially proud of applicants this year, many of whom began medical school the fall before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and had to quickly adapt to and thrive in a radically changed academic and training landscape. Their experiences and success speak to a remarkable resilience and dedication they will carry with them into practice.”

Match rates remained steady among each of the four main applicant types with less than a one percentage point difference compared to the 2023 Main Residency Match.

The 2024 Main Residency Match included 6,395 certified programs offering 41,503 PGY-1 and PGY-2 training positions, the largest number in the NRMP’s 72-year history. 

“Upward trends in participating program rates and positions offered and filled demonstrate the success with which the NRMP ably and consistently grows to meet the needs of the undergraduate and graduate medical education communities,” said Dr. Lamb. “To support that growth, the NRMP is committed not only to expanding its data analyses and offerings for those in our community but also to leveraging Match data as a critical bellwether of the future physician workforce, informing national conversations about specialty and physician geographic distribution to improve population health outcomes.”

Of all positions offered, 38,941 filled for a rate of 93.8%, a 0.5 percentage point increase over last year. Of the 6,395 total certified programs, 5,608 filled at a rate of 87.7%  an increase of 1.1 percentage points over last year.

The Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine, located in Pasadena, California, celebrated its first-ever Match Day this year for its inaugural medical school class. The school opened in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the graduating class, 62% of students will remain in California for their residencies, with 19% of students matched to a Kaiser Permanente residency program for all or part of their training, the school said in a press release. The top three institutions with the most matches for KPSOM students are University of California Los Angeles, University of California San Francisco, and University of Washington. 

Internal medicine, emergency medicine, and family medicine are the top three most matched specialty programs, and 38% are matched into primary care specialties, including family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics.

“It’s our mission to support the development of our students as compassionate future physicians who improve the health and well-being of their patients and communities. We are extremely proud of our first class of students and their exciting residency placements," said Mark Schuster, M.D., Ph.D., founding dean and chief executive officer of the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine in a statement.

Trends in specialty positions

A record number of primary care positions were offered this year with 19,423 primary care positions, or 46.8% of all the positions offered in the Match.

There were 719 more primary care positions offered in 2024, and the fill rate for the specialties combined was 92.9%. But, the primary care fill rate fell slightly in 2024 by 1.4 percentage points, largely due to changes in pediatrics.

This year, pediatrics offered 3,139 categorical and primary positions, an increase of 93 over 2023, and filled 2,887 resulting in a fill rate of 92% compared to 9% in 2023.

There was a rebound in emergency medicine positions, which rose closer to pre-pandemic levels.

Emergency medicine achieved its historically high fill rate of 98–99% in the 2017–2021 Matches. By 2023, the fill rate had dropped by 17.9 percentage points, driven in part by the strain the specialty experienced during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to NRMP.  In 2024, emergency medicine offered 3,026 positions, an increase of 16 positions from 2023 and filled 2,891 to earn a 95.5% fill rate, an increase of 13.9 percentage points. There were 135 positions unfilled after the matching algorithm was processed compared to 554 unfilled positions in 2023.

The specialties with 30 positions or more that filled with the highest percentage of U.S. MD and DO seniors were internal medicine/emergency medicine (96.8%), thoracic surgery (95.8%, otolaryngology (95.8%), internal medicine/pediatrics (94.6%), orthopedic surgery (92.1%), interventional radiology – integrated (91.4%) and obstetrics and gynecology (90.7%).

Family medicine welcomed nearly 4,600 future family physicians, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. It's the largest class of incoming family medicine residents in history, with 4,595 medical students and graduates matching into family medicine residency programs. This year, family medicine offered 5,231 residency positions,124 more than in 2023.  

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra delivered remarks and celebrated students at Howard University’s College of Medicine marking the 71st anniversary of Match Day – the annual nationwide event where medical students learn which residency program they will be attending. Joining him, principals from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) fanned out across the country to 11 medical schools to mark the day, including in Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Tennessee, Connecticut, California, the Cherokee Nation, Georgia, Wisconsin and New Mexico.

“The more that we expand our health workforce and support our health workers, the healthier we will be as a nation. HHS is committed to recruiting, supporting, and promoting new opportunities for health workers to learn and expand their capabilities," said HHS Deputy Secretary Andrea Palm, who joined Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University’s Match Day ceremony in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.