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ACP-ASIM Responds to Internal Medicine Match Results

PHILADELPHIA -- (March 21, 2002) Results of the 2002 National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) residency match, released today, suggest a continuing decline in interest in careers in primary care. Overall, internal medicine was the least negatively affected primary care specialty this year, according to Herbert Waxman, MD, FACP, senior vice president for education for the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine (ACP-ASIM.)

ACP-ASIM is the nation's largest medical specialty society. Its membership comprises more than 115,000 internal medicine physicians and medical students. Internists are specialists in the prevention, detection and treatment of illnesses that primarily affect adults.

The three career-bound internal medicine program tracks -- categorical, primary and medicine-pediatrics -- matched 3,234 U.S. medical school seniors this year. Categorical, the track chosen by 85 percent of these seniors, declined the least -- 2.2 percent -- since last year. Primary internal medicine residencies attracted 16 percent fewer U.S. seniors this year, and medicine-pediatrics residencies attracted 9 percent fewer residents than last year.

In contrast, there was a sharp increase in U.S. seniors matched to preliminary programs in internal medicine. These seniors will be entering other specialties such as ophthalmology and dermatology after first-year residency. The number of students matched to preliminary internal medicine programs was 1,398 -- the highest number since 1991.

According to Dr. Waxman, the match results do not reflect the large number of positions filled outside the match by international medical graduates and by doctors of osteopathic medicine.

"Based on current trends, it's likely that more than 50% of U.S. seniors entering categorical internal medicine programs will not end up in careers in general internal medicine. Thus, the NRMP figures don't reflect the full extent of declining interest in primary care careers among U.S. seniors. Although this fall-off is much discussed by organizational leaders and federal and state policy makers, there are no specific proposal or plans which might reverse this steady trend away from primary care careers," said Dr. Waxman.

The American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine (ACP-ASIM) is dedicated to the advancement of internal medicine so that its members can provide the best quality care for their patients. A nonprofit organization based in Philadelphia, it is the second-largest physician group in the United States. Its mission is to enhance the quality and effectiveness of health care by fostering excellence and professionalism in the practice of medicine.

Lynda Teer, 215-351-2655 or 800-523-1546, ext. 2655

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