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ACP Responds to Internal Medicine Match Results

PHILADELPHIA — (March 17, 2005) Results of the 2005 National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), released today, show a slight increase in the number of U.S. medical school seniors selecting a residency training program in internal medicine, according to Steven E. Weinberger, MD, FACP, senior vice president for medical knowledge and education for the American College of Physicians (ACP), the national organization of doctors of internal medicine.

ACP (Doctors of Internal Medicine. Doctors for Adults.) is the largest medical-specialty organization and second-largest physician group in the United States. Membership includes internists, related subspecialists, and medical students.

According to the NRMP results, the three career-bound program tracks within internal medicine — categorical, primary care, and medicine-pediatrics — matched 3,104 U.S. medical school seniors this year, compared to 3,086 in 2004. Consistent with past years, 86 percent of U.S. seniors selected the categorical track. This year, 57 more U.S. seniors entered categorical positions, a 2 percent increase over last year.

"ACP is encouraged by the overall increase in internal medicine residency matches for the second consecutive year," said Dr. Weinberger. "Nevertheless, we are continuing to aggressively address a variety of issues that we believe may limit the attractiveness of primary care specialties, including a dysfunctional payment system that does not adequately reward primary care physicians for such important efforts as disease prevention services and care coordination."

Primary care internal medicine residencies attracted 18 fewer U.S. seniors, a 9.6 percent decline, and medicine-pediatrics residencies attracted 21 fewer seniors, a 7 percent decline. However, since most students choosing primary care internal medicine careers obtain their residency training in one of the many categorical programs (n=364) rather than the much smaller number of primary care programs (n=56), the decrease in primary care matches alongside a greater increase in categorical matches does not necessarily indicate decreased interest in an eventual primary care career path.

Continuing a several-year trend, more U.S. medical school seniors are entering preliminary internal medicine programs but will train in other specialties such as ophthalmology and dermatology after their first year of residency. Compared with last year, 55 more students matched to preliminary internal medicine programs, filling 1,526 positions, a 20 percent increase over the past five years.

International Medical Graduates (IMGs) continue to represent a large proportion of the matched internal medicine slots. This year, IMGs accounted for 43 percent of categorical internal medicine slots, compared with 44 percent in the 2004 match. Yet because some IMGs go outside the match program, the percentage is likely higher. The match results also do not reflect the number of positions filled by doctors of osteopathic medicine.

The American College of Physicians was founded in 1915 to promote the science and practice of medicine. In 1998 it merged with the American Society of Internal Medicine, which was established in 1956 to study economic aspects of medicine. ACP works to enhance the quality and effectiveness of health care by fostering excellence and professionalism in the practice of medicine. ACP membership includes 116,000 internists, medical residents, fellows and students.

Lynda Teer, 215-351-2655 or 800-523-1546, ext. 2655, E-mail lteer@acponline.org

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