Match 2016: What to expect on the road ahead

The 2016 ERAS season has begun! After four years of medical school, clinical rotations, and passing your USMLE exams it is time to embark on the next stage of the process: NRMP’s Main Match. Yesterday marked the opening of the ERAS season so its time to get started!

What should I expect moving forward?
Throughout the past decade we have seen how competitive it has become to match into a residency program here in the United States. Last year an all-time high of 41,334 medical school graduates applied to participate in the 2015 Match. This number has been steadily increasing since 2004. Although there have also been new programs and new positions opening, it is not enough to keep up with the escalating numbers of medical school graduates across the globe seeking residency positions in the U.S. 

So why is the number of applicants increasing?

The simple answer to this question is an increase of medical schools. In an effort to combat the shortage of primary care physicians in the U.S, more and more MD and DO medical school programs have sprung up over the past few years. In the 2015 Match there were 680 more US seniors, 253 more osteopathic graduates, and 133 International and Foreign medical graduates. Since the number of residency programs does not increase at the same rate there continues to be a surplus of Match applicants every year. This takes the greatest toll on International and Foreign medical graduates (IMGs and FMGs) with a 53.1% and 49.4% match rate, respectively. 

What can I do to improve my chances of matching?

Since the Match is becoming increasingly more competitive it will be important to enhance your application to ensure that you stand out against other applicants. Although at this point in time you have likely completed your clinical rotations and USMLE exams there is still plenty you can do to improve your candidacy. Program directors like to see applicants continue their medical knowledge and education beyond graduation day. Enrolling in hands-on externships and research fellowships are great ways to gain valuable experience in the specialty you are pursuing. For more information on how to obtain these hands-on clinical opportunities contact a guidance manager at Residents Medical. Don’t wait- there’s still time to enhance your application for this year’s Match! 

**Data from NRMP