Osteopathic Match Again Shows Family Medicine on Top

February 14, 2018 12:43 pm Sheri Porter

On Feb. 5, the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) released results of the 2018 AOA Intern/Resident Registration Program, and once again, the numbers confirm that family medicine is the most popular specialty among osteopathic medical school seniors and newly minted D.O. physicians who participated in the AOA Match.

[female physician smiling in front of other doctors]

A statistical summary(natmatch.com) of results published by the AOA breaks down match numbers by specialty. The results for the top five specialties in 2018 show

  • 503 participants matched to family medicine residencies,
  • 426 matched to internal medicine,
  • 158 matched to emergency medicine,
  • 118 matched to general surgery and
  • 115 matched to orthopedic surgery.

According to a Feb. 5 press release(www.osteopathic.org) from the AOA, the AOA Match produced nearly 1,000 new residents for primary care specialties. That number accounted for 62 percent of the total 1,600 matches made.

Furthermore, 65.7 percent of participating osteopathic medical students matched to a residency program in this year's AOA Match -- a percentage that is "slightly lower than in past years," according to the AOA.

The AOA noted in the release that residencies are "moving, not disappearing" and pointed out that the AOA, the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) are in the midst of a five-year transition to a single accreditation system for graduate medical education.  

Story Highlights
  • Results from the 2018 American Osteopathic Association (AOA) Intern/Resident Registration Program are in, and family medicine residencies earned the most recruits.
  • Total participation in the AOA Match is lower than last year, but the drop is attributed to the nationwide transition to a single accreditation system for graduate medical education.
  • The best news coming out of the AOA Match, according to AAFP Senior Vice President for Education Clif Knight, M.D., is that 30 percent of participating D.O. students chose family medicine.  

To that point, the AOA said that almost half of all osteopathic training programs have already made the transition to ACGME accreditation, with many more "expected to complete the process by the end of 2020."

Currently, D.O. graduates can choose from several systems for graduate medical education, which likely accounts for the lower total numbers reflected in the 2018 AOA Match, according to the AOA. However, after the transition to the single accreditation system is completed in 2020, most D.O. and M.D. applicants will participate in a unified National Resident Matching Program (NRMP).

The AAFP's Senior Vice President for Education, Clif Knight, M.D., also reflected on the situation.

In an interview with AAFP News, Knight said, "My interpretation is that we are seeing the results of the transition to the single accreditation system. We'll be monitoring NRMP results closely, and when those are added to the AOA results, we'll have a better understanding of the full picture for family medicine."

Results from the NRMP Match will be released on March 16.

Knight pointed out that in 2017, a total of 230 family medicine residency programs -- offering 959 family medicine positions -- were available in the AOA Match, compared to 188 programs and 807 positions in 2018.

He noted that the fill rate for family medicine programs remained fairly stable at 63 percent in 2017 compared to 62 percent in 2018.

Knight emphasized what he called "the really good news" coming out of the AOA Match data; namely, "that 30 percent of the students participating chose family medicine."

"I think it's fair to say that the major family medicine organizations -- known as the 'family' of family medicine -- have all agreed on setting a target of 25 percent of all graduating medical students choosing family medicine by 2030. That's a stretch goal, but that's where our health system should be and what our country needs," he said.

Those major family medicine organizations are the AAFP, the AAFP Foundation, the American Board of Family Medicine, the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians, the Association of Departments of Family Medicine, the Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors, the North American Primary Care Research Group and the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine.

Knight added that for the past two years, the combined allopathic and osteopathic Match Day results have yielded a family medicine recruitment rate of only about 12 percent.

"And so we applaud the success that the osteopathic community has had in placing their graduates in family medicine residencies," said Knight. "The allopathic schools have something to learn from the osteopathic schools when it comes to achieving this level of success."

Lastly, regarding the switch to a single accreditation program, Knight stressed that the AAFP has been working with programs to help them understand and identify what they need to do to meet the ACGME requirements.

"The family medicine community as a whole -- and the AAFP in particular -- has made it a priority to be available to assist programs that are making that transition.

"We're all working together to make this happen," said Knight.

Related AAFP News Coverage
GME System Not Meeting Nation's Physician Workforce Needs
AAFP Researchers Crunch the Numbers

(10/4/2017)