Results from the 2017 American Osteopathic Association (AOA) Intern/Resident Registration Program(www.osteopathic.org) -- the AOA "Match" -- were published on Feb. 6, and the numbers represent another good showing for family medicine.
The AOA residency match program targets newly and recently graduated D.O. physicians. The just-released data show that 610 graduates chose family medicine this year -- an increase of 3.4 percent over the 2016 total of 590 family medicine recruits.
AAFP President John Meigs, M.D., of Centreville, Ala., applauded a trend line that continues to inch higher and that illustrates how newly minted osteopathic physicians continue -- year after year -- to choose family medicine as their specialty of choice.
"The number of graduates matching to family medicine in the AOA Match continues to increase, and I want to personally congratulate these physicians on their accomplishment and welcome them to family medicine," said Meigs.
"This is great news for our specialty and for patients all across the United States who deserve the top-quality health care family physicians consistently deliver," he added.
Note how family medicine has benefitted from D.O. physician passion for the specialty. Data from the AOA Match(www.natmatch.com) show that,
• in 2011, family medicine offered 706 positions and filled 373,
• in 2012, offered 735 and filled 433;
• in 2013, offered 845 and filled 472;
• in 2014, offered 880 and filled 519;
• in 2015, offered 911 and filled 549; and
• in 2016, offered 991 and filled 590.
Perhaps the most impressive figure related to the 2017 AOA Match is that family medicine programs matched 19.7 percent of positions offered overall.
"That is more than double the 8.7 percent of positions matched to family medicine in the 2016 National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), which is a much larger program," said Stan Kozakowski, M.D., the AAFP's director of medical education.
The 2017 AOA Match data indicate that 68 fewer residency programs participated this year, a decline of 8.75 percent from 2016. In addition, 120 fewer positions were offered overall in 2017, which represents a 3.7 percent drop from 2016.
And among family medicine residency programs, there were 34 fewer positions offered in 2017 -- a 3.4 percent drop when compared to 2016.
However, the dip in numbers was not alarming or surprising to Kozakowski.
"The drop in the overall number of positions offered was completely expected as a result of the merging of two accreditation programs into one," said Kozakowski. "We anticipated a slight downturn in offered positions as D.O. programs convert to the ACGME (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education) system."
Currently, the ACGME is responsible for the accreditation of post-M.D. medical training programs in the United States.
"With two systems merging into a single accreditation system(www.osteopathic.org), some fluctuation in numbers is likely until programs complete that process in 2020," Kozakowski added.
"The really good news is that once that transition is complete, we will have a uniform standard for GME in this country," said Kozakowski. That, in turn, will create an opportunity to develop an annual residency census that includes all U.S. family medicine residency programs, he added.
Stay tuned for more news about family medicine recruits when results from the NRMP Match are announced on March 17.
Related AAFP News Coverage
2016 Match Data Analysis
U.S. Medical Schools Still Underproducing Family Physicians