The number of U.S. medical student seniors at medical schools choosing internal medicine residencies leveled in 2012 after two years of significant increases. According to the 2012 National Resident Matching Program, 2,941 U.S. medical school seniors matched internal medicine, nearly unchanged from 2011 when 2,940 matched internal medicine.
"After seeing increases in 2010 and 2011 for the internal medicine residency match for U.S. medical students, we are disappointed that there was not a bigger increase this year," said Virginia L. Hood, MBBS, MPH, FACP, president, American College of Physicians (ACP), the nation's second-largest doctors group. "We remain concerned about the need to significantly increase the nation's internal medicine and primary care physician workforce to meet the needs of an aging population requiring care for chronic and complex illnesses."
The 2012 match numbers include students who will ultimately enter a subspecialty of internal medicine, such as cardiology or gastroenterology. Currently, about 20 to 25 percent of internal medicine residents eventually choose to specialize in general internal medicine, compared with 54 percent in 1998. Internal medicine enrollment numbers decreased from 2007 to 2009 (2,680 in 2007; 2,660 in 2008; and 2,632 in 2009).
"The numbers of U.S. medical students choosing internal medicine residencies are still well below the numbers of a generation ago," said Steven Weinberger, MD, FACP, executive vice president and CEO, ACP.
In 1985, 3,884 U.S. medical school graduates chose internal medicine residency programs.
"ACP also remains concerned about the rising cost of medical education and the resulting financial burden on medical students and residents, particularly those who choose careers in general internal medicine," Dr. Weinberger said. "Our nation needs to continue to reform the payment system and help internal medicine residents recognize their societal contribution to providing primary care for complex patients."
Also of note in the 2012 National Resident Matching Program report released today is the increase of U.S. medical graduates who matched in Internal Medicine-Primary Care (186 in 2012, 166 in 2011). However, this was offset by 33 fewer U.S. graduates who matched in Med-Peds (276 in 2012, 309 in 2011).