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Feature: Match Day Results: Internal Medicine Positions Critical to High Quality Health Care System
Internal medicine programs offered 7,024 residency positions this year, a 3.75% increase from 6,770 in 2015, according to the 2016 National Resident Matching Program. Of the 6,938 (98.8%) internal medicine positions filled, 3,291 (46.9%) positions were filled with U.S. medical school seniors.
"The continued increase of internal medicine residency positions is critical to ensuring that patients have access to general internal medicine and primary care physicians who specialize in preventive care, diagnostic evaluation, and long-term treatment of complex and chronic diseases in coordination with internal medicine subspecialists such as cardiologists and endocrinologists," said Philip Masters, MD, FACP, senior physician educator and director, clinical content development, American College of Physicians. "While the trend is positive, it is important to remember that right now only about 18 percent of internal medicine residents eventually choose to specialize in general internal medicine, while 12 percent choose to become hospitalists." Barriers to careers in general internal medicine and primary care include increasing administrative burdens, under-recognition of cognitive and care coordination skills, and compensation and debt burden issues. Graduate medical education (GME) funding also plays a major role in addressing the nation's physician workforce needs. ACP:
- believes that GME funding needs to be sustained, and increased on a prioritized basis, to train more physicians in the specialties in greatest need. It is especially important that GME dollars support training of more internal medicine physician specialists.
- believes that GME is a public good -- it benefits all of society, not just those who directly purchase or receive it -- and supports an all payer GME funding system where private payers join federal and state governments in contributing to the GME funding pool.
- recommends increased training in ambulatory settings and supports community-based training programs such as the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program.
Internal medicine enrollment numbers have increased every year since 2012: 5,226 in 2012; 6,242 in 2013; 6,465 in 2014; 6,698 in 2015; and 6,938 in 2016. The percentage of U.S. seniors who matched to postgraduate year one (PGY-1) internal medicine positions in 2016 (19.3%; 3,291 total) was about the same as last year (19.6; 3,371 total).
The 2016 match showed a continuing increase of U.S. medical graduates who matched in internal medicine-primary care (156 in 2010, 166 in 2011, 186 in 2012, 200 in 2013, 202 in 2014, 206 in 2015, and 210 in 2016) and in medicine-pediatrics (299 in 2010, 309 in 2011, 276 in 2012, 312 in 2013, 284 in 2014, 319 in 2015, and 329 in 2016).