More Students Match Into Family Medicine While Specialty Eyes New Workforce Goals

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   
Friday, March 16, 2018

Contact:
Stephanie A. Wilken
Public Relations Strategist
(800) 274-2237, Ext. 5221
swilken@aafp.org

LEAWOOD, Kan. -- The upward trend in students matching into family medicine continued for the ninth consecutive year with 2018 data showing more students matched into family medicine than in any year previously recorded, according to the National Residency Matching Program® Main Residency Match results released today.

The NRMP, also known as the Match, aligns graduating medical students with residency training programs in specialties the students pursue.

This year, the total number of NRMP Match participants matching into family medicine was 3,535, up 298 from the 3,237 in 2017. These data include 1,648 graduates of U.S. allopathic medical schools. The total increase marks the ninth year in a row more students have chosen family medicine through the NRMP Match.

“The number and proportion of U.S. medical graduates going into family medicine is the strongest indicator of the future of the primary care workforce because family medicine is the only specialty completely devoted to primary care,” said Michael Munger, MD, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. “The continued increased interest in family medicine is promising news as we continue to fight the workforce shortage.”

The number of U.S. osteopathic medical school graduates who matched to family medicine in last month’s American Osteopathic Association Intern/Resident Registration Program was 505, down 107 from the year before. The move toward a single accreditation system and consolidation to the NRMP Match is responsible for most of the decline in the osteopathic match figures and some of the increase in the NRMP Match figures. However, the increased number of NRMP Match students choosing family medicine is greater than the decrease in osteopathic match, indicating true net growth and promise for the family medicine workforce. Another key figure is the historic fill rate of 96.7 percent of the positions offered in the NRMP Match. This figure gained almost a full percentage point from 2017, a marked increase and further measure of continued improvement.

“Though the shortage continues to outpace our progress, we’re moving forward in the right direction each year,” Munger said. “Our patients and communities need these numbers to grow by leaps and bounds. We still have more work to do.”

That work Munger refers to is the “shared aim” of eight family medicine organizations(fmahealth.org) to increase the percentage of U.S. allopathic and osteopathic medical graduates choosing family medicine from the current estimated 12 percent to 25 percent by 2030. The goal, known as 25 by 30, is part of a larger effort to capture 40 percent of the primary care workforce to address the predicted shortage of 44,000 primary care physicians(www.annfammed.org) by 2035. Achieving these goals, analysts say, will rebalance the U.S. physician workforce to provide a better health care experience, improved health of populations and reduced per capita costs of health care.

To meet these needs, the number of U.S. medical graduates choosing family medicine will need to more than double. “At the same time, it is important to increase the number of family medicine residency positions,” said Clif Knight, MD, AAFP senior vice president of education.

The AAFP will continue to work toward its shared goal of 25 by 30 by:

“We have a new starting line, and a clear — and I believe achievable — goal,” Munger said. “The Academy has the framework to build upon our already existing advocacy efforts for graduate medical education reform, which in turn leads to more residency positions for family medicine, addresses the workforce need and builds a more robust foundation for primary care.

“Now it’s time to dig deeper and promote the specialty that will care for all patients into the next decade and beyond. Together we will rebalance the U.S. physician workforce and provide better health care experience, reduce costs and improve the health of the public. These goals, while ambitious, will make our health care system stronger.”

For additional information, analysis, graphs and more, visit the AAFP Match Day 2018 Media kit at: https://www.aafp.org/media-center/kits/match-day-2018.html

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Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 131,400 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five of the total medical office visits in the United States per year – more than any other specialty. Family physicians provide comprehensive, evidence-based, and cost-effective care dedicated to improving the health of patients, families and communities. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing and personal patient-physician relationship where the family physician serves as the hub of each patient’s integrated care team. More Americans depend on family physicians than on any other medical specialty.

To learn more about the AAFP and family medicine, visit www.aafp.org/media. Follow us on Twitter,(twitter.com) and like us on Facebook. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website, www.familydoctor.org(familydoctor.org).