2017 Match® Results for Family Medicine

The American Academy of Family Physicians’ (AAFP’s) brief analysis of the family medicine results of the annual National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) Main Residency Match® (NRMP Match) provides a snapshot of a major input into the primary care workforce pipeline.

Matt Peters from the University of Washington School of Medicine, pictured with his wife, Samantha, matched to the Cascades East Family Medicine Residency in Klamath Falls, OR.

2017 NRMP Match Highlights

  • 3,237 medical students and graduates matched to family medicine residency programs in 2017, the most in family medicine’s history as a specialty.

  • Of those matches, 1,530 positions were filled with U.S. Seniors, 810 fewer than the historical peak (2,340 in 1997).

  • Family medicine offered 3,378 positions, 118 more than 2016.

  • This is the eighth straight year that the family medicine match rate climbed year-over-year.

Key Takeaway

The 2017 NRMP Match results continue in the right direction for family medicine. The number of U.S. Seniors matching into family medicine residencies is up 447 over the last eight years. However, neither the production of family medicine residents by U.S. medical schools nor the number of available family medicine residency positions are sufficient to address primary care workforce needs in the U.S. The AAFP is working to remove significant barriers in the educational and practice environments that are stifling growth in family medicine specialty choice among U.S. medical graduates, as well as increase the number of family medicine graduate medical education positions. Substantial increases in the family medicine and primary care workforce will improve the health of Americans and the sustainability of the health care system.

A Closer Look at the 2017 NRMP Match Results

A total of 28,849 PGY-1 positions were offered in all medical specialties in the 2017 NRMP Match and 27,688 were filled. Of those, 17,480 were filled with seniors in Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME)-accredited U.S. schools of medicine (U.S. Seniors).

10-Year Data: Family Medicine Positions Offered & Filled - March 2007-2017 *does not include AOA Match

10-Year Data: Family Medicine Positions Offered & Filled - March 2007-2017 *does not include AOA Match

In the 2017 NRMP Match:

  • Family medicine* offered 11.7% and filled 11.7% of the total positions
  • The fill rate for U.S. Seniors in family medicine was 45.3%

*Includes family medicine-categorical, plus combined programs: emergency medicine-family medicine, family medicine-preventive medicine, medicine-family medicine, and psychiatry-family medicine.

Compared with 2016, family medicine residency programs in the 2017 NRMP Match:

  • Offered 118 more positions (3,378 vs. 3,260)
  • Matched 132 more students and graduates (3,237 vs. 3,105)
  • Matched 49 more U.S. Seniors (1,530 vs. 1,481)
  • Had a similar overall fill rate (95.8% vs. 95.2%)
  • Had a similar fill rate for U.S. Seniors (45.3% vs. 44.4%)
  • Offered 11.7% of all positions in the Match (11.7% in 2016)
  • Matched 8.8% of all U.S. Seniors in the Match (8.7% in 2016)

The 2017 NRMP Match results continue an eight-year trend of increases in the number of family medicine positions offered, positions filled, and positions filled with U.S. Seniors. In fact, the number of family medicine positions filled in the 2017 NRMP Match is the highest number filled in the history of the specialty, and has been each year since 2013. These increases reflect rising interest in family medicine careers among U.S. medical students. However, the number of positions filled with U.S. Seniors remains 810 below the historical high of 2,340 in 1997.

20-Year Data: Family Medicine Positions Offered & Filled - March 1997-2017 *does not include AOA Match

20-Year Data: Family Medicine Positions Offered & Filled - March 1997-2017 *does not include AOA Match

The 2017 results also show a fill rate above 95%, meaning that the gap between positions offered and positions filled in family medicine has diminished over time. The fill rate for family medicine has increased significantly since 2003 when it hit a low of 76.2%. Of the 141 positions unfilled in family medicine in 2017, most are anticipated to be filled during the NRMP Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program®, resulting in nearly 100% of family medicine positions offered in the NRMP Match to fill. By contrast, the fill rate in family medicine for U.S. Seniors decreased drastically between 1996 (72.6%) and 2005 (40.7%) and increased slightly since to 45.3% in 2017, but has remained below 50% since 2001.


Family Medicine Programs

Family medicine – categorical programs offered 3,356 positions, filled 3,215 positions, and filled 1,513 positions with U.S. Seniors. The overall fill rate for family medicine – categorical programs was 95.8%.

Overall, family medicine combined programs filled at 100% in the 2017 NRMP Match, which is fairly consistent with past performance.

  • Emergency medicine-family medicine filled 4 positions, 2 with U.S. Seniors.
  • Family medicine-preventive medicine filled 6 positions, 5 with a U.S. Senior.
  • Medicine-family medicine filled 2 positions, both with U.S. Seniors.
  • Psychiatry-family medicine filled 10 positions, 8 with U.S. Seniors.

Other Primary Care Specialties

In the 2017 NRMP Match:

  • Primary care* positions were 14.5% of the positions offered overall (4,183 of 28,849).
  • Primary care positions were 14.5% of the positions filled overall (4,016 of 27,688).
  • Primary care residency programs filled with U.S. Seniors at a rate of 49.6% (2,076 of 4,183).
  • Of the U.S. Seniors matched, 11.9% were in primary care residencies (2,076 of 17,480).

*Defined as family medicine categorical and combined programs, internal medicine-primary, internal medicine-pediatrics, and pediatrics-primary.

In total, 130 more positions were offered in primary care specialties compared with 2016. These results show a 3.0% increase in the number of positions offered in all primary care specialties.

Compared with the 2016 NRMP Match:

  • Medicine-primary (primary care internal medicine) filled 16 more positions in 2016 (341 vs. 325) and matched 14 more with U.S. Seniors (224 vs. 210).
  • Medicine-pediatrics (med-peds) filled 28 fewer positions (356 vs. 384) and matched 38 fewer U.S. Seniors (291 vs. 329).
  • Pediatrics-primary (primary care pediatrics) filled 3 more positions (82 vs. 79) and matched 3 fewer U.S. Seniors (31 vs. 34).

2017 AOA Family Medicine Results

Another prominent matching program for medical students or graduates is the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) Intern/Resident Registration Program (AOA Match), which matched 2,214 graduating osteopathic medical students in February 2017. This program matches students into graduate medical education programs that are either solely accredited by the AOA or are dually accredited by the AOA and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). The United States is the only country that trains osteopathic physicians, so the AOA Match does not include international medical graduates. It is important to review the results of the AOA Match in the context of the transition to the Single Accreditation System for graduate medical education. As programs receive ACGME accreditation, the number of programs and students participating in the AOA Match may change.

In the 2017 AOA Match, family medicine residency programs:

  • Offered 961 positions, down 34 from 2016
  • Matched 612 osteopathic medical students, up 3% from 594 in 2016*
  • Matched 19.7% of positions offered overall and 27.6% of completed matches overall, which is higher than the proportion of family medicine matches through the NRMP Match
  • Had a fill rate of 63.7%, which is lower than the NRMP Match’s fill rate for family medicine

*Includes family medicine-categorical, plus emergency medicine-family medicine.

Unmatched family medicine positions typically are offered by the AOA through an informal supplemental matching process, and many of those in the AOA Match may also be enrolled in the NRMP Match.

More on the Family Medicine and Primary Care Workforce

The NRMP Match is the largest and most representative mechanism for medical student recruitment into specialized medical residencies in the United States, and as such, serves as a barometer of workforce production.

However, the NRMP Match and AOA match are not the only mechanisms through which medical students or graduates are matched with their required graduate medical education, or residency programs, in a specialized field to lead to board certification in a medical specialty (or multiple specialties).

The following resources provide a more in-depth look at the family medicine workforce pipeline:

More on the Family Medicine and Primary Care Workforce

The NRMP Match is the largest and most representative mechanism for medical student recruitment into specialized medical residencies in the United States, and as such, serves as a barometer of workforce production.

However, the NRMP Match and AOA match are not the only mechanisms through which medical students or graduates are matched with their required graduate medical education, or residency programs, in a specialized field to lead to board certification in a medical specialty (or multiple specialties).

The following resources provide a more in-depth look at the family medicine workforce pipeline: