ospitals offered a record number of residency positions and more doctors than ever will start their medical careers this summer, according to data released Friday.

The new figures from the National Resident Matching Program arrive on Match Day, when thousands of medical students in the United States and around the world learn where they’ve “matched” for a residency program, after finding out on Monday whether they matched at all.

One figure of note: There was a small decline in the number of people, US citizen or otherwise, who graduated from medical school abroad and tried to match. The number of international medical graduates who are not US citizens and who applied dropped from 7,460 in 2016 to 7,284 this year.


The report does not explain why there was a decline and does not go into country-by-country detail. But this year’s match process came as President Trump tried to temporarily block the arrival of people from some majority-Muslim countries and has imposed restrictions on visas sometimes used in residencies.

Although federal judges have blocked Trump’s executive orders, experts said hospitals would not want to take the risk of ranking students from the listed countries in case they ran into trouble getting visas and joining the residency programs. People involved in the match process also raised the idea that people from those countries might be discouraged from applying because of the proposals.

Still, 52.4 percent of non-US citizens from schools abroad matched into a position, which was the highest rate for that group in over a decade.

More highlights from the report:

  • Overall, the number of residency positions offered hit a record high of 31,757, up more than a thousand from 2016. Almost 36,000 people submitted applications.
  • The number of first-year residency positions — 28,849 — was also a new record. Of those, 27,688 were filled.
  • Almost 80 percent of matched residents landed a spot in one of their top three ranked choices.
  • From 2013 to 2017, the number of first-year residency spots in a handful of fields grew by more than 10 percent, including anesthesiology, emergency medicine, family medicine, internal medicine, neurology, and plastic surgery. Only diagnostic radiology saw the number of spots offered drop by more than 10 percent over that time.

Those who didn’t match entered a scramble this week to find an unfilled spot. Programs with open residency positions can interview unmatched students throughout the week and extend offers through the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program, or SOAP.

This year, 1,177 spots were up for grabs during SOAP. The number filled was not immediately available.

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  • In my experience, the vast majority of FMG picked up slots in residencies not attractive and not filled by American graduates. Mostly inner cities urban areas. The first priority is AMG, US citizen FMG and then non US citizen FMG.
    There is a similar trend around the world – UK, Canada, Europe & Australia.

  • I don’t see an issue with non US foreign medical grads not getting residency training in the US. I know at least 3 highly qualified US citizens who went overseas to medical school and are now practicing in the US after completing residency programs in America. As long as any US citizen who has completed an accredited medical program has not matched we have not done justice to our own citizens who sacrificed heavily to become physicians. Taking overseas non citizen grads is alarmingly like the H1B visa program where foreign workers, not always clearly superior to current US workers, are shipped in and US workers fired. It is time that US citizens are accommodated first – we pay taxes to support of our medical schools and hospitals and we should train our citizens.

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