New data from Match 2018 underscore radiology's rebound

By Brian Casey, staff writer

March 16, 2018 -- Radiology has completed its rebound as a specialty that's desirable to medical students, if data from the 2018 Main Residency Match are any indication. U.S. diagnostic radiology programs reported in as 100% filled, with no programs posting any unfilled first-year radiology residency positions.

The numbers represent a remarkable rebound from just a few years ago, when radiology was thought to be an undesirable specialty for medical students. For example, in 2014 only 88.3% of diagnostic radiology residency programs reported being filled with first-year (PGY-1) applicants, according to data from the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), the group that conducts the Match.

Overall, the NRMP reported that the 2018 Match was the largest on record, with 37,103 registered applicants vying for 33,167 positions. There were 30,232 PGY-1 positions, up 1,282 slots from the number reported in the 2017 Match.

The most desired specialties are those that have the highest placement rates for U.S. seniors, and one of these was integrated interventional radiology, a relatively new specialty (the first Match for interventional radiology as its own specialty was in 2016). Of the specialties with more than 30 available PGY-1 residency positions, 97.1% of the 35 slots in interventional radiology were filled by U.S. seniors. For point of comparison, of the 125 positions offered in diagnostic radiology, 77 (61.6%) were filled by U.S. seniors, with the rest coming from graduates of international medical schools.

Still, diagnostic radiology did well by completely filling all of the 125 positions at 34 radiology residency programs in the country. Of the 981 total applications, 632 were U.S. seniors. What's more, the trend line of filled U.S. diagnostic radiology programs shows positive growth since 2014.

U.S. radiology programs in Match, 2014-2018
  2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Percent of diagnostic radiology programs reporting as filling all PGY-1 positions 88.3% 90.2% 93.4% 99.2% 100%
Percent of interventional radiology programs reporting as filling all PGY-1 positions NA* NA* 100% 93.1% 100%
*Interventional radiology did not begin reporting data as a specialty until Match 2016.

The NRMP noted that Match results are closely watched because they are predictors of future supply in the physician workforce. The competitiveness of different medical specialties can be assessed by the percentage of positions filled overall and by the percentage filled by seniors from U.S. allopathic medical schools.

Copyright © 2018

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