Using data from the NRMP main residency match ‘Results and Data: 2013 Main Residency Match’ I tried to address the question is there year to year variability in the match rates for American medical graduates and more importantly international medical graduates. Data are shown in figure 1 which plots the difference in match rates form previous year to this year. Simply put, difference in the match rate for a group between a year and previous year was calculated (Y and Y-1). These are depicted on the y axis and range from -2 to 8, while the years themselves (not notated) are on the x-axis and are from 2009 to 2013. The variation in match rates for US seniors (AMGs) is depicted as a black bar and the US IMGs are in yellow lines while non US IMGs (foreign medical graduates) are in green.
|Figure 1: year to year variability of IMG match rates oscillate|
As can be seen in the figure, there is an unexpected variation oscillation in the match rates for IMGs (both US and non US IMGs). The greatest difference between the two was in year 2013 but this difference was calculated to be not significant (ns, x2 test, Df=1, 0.05<p<0.1) and the behavior of these 2 groups could be construed as 'linked'. If 2009 is considered to the baseline year, then 2010 was not a good year because overall match rate was less than previous year, 2011 was better than 2010 since the difference from previous year was positive, 2012 was unfavorable with less applicants matching compared to previous year (2011) and 2013 was exceptionally good since more IMG (US and non US IMG) applicants matched that their cohorts in 2012
Implication: If this trend is to continue, the one would forecast that the 2014 match season will not be favorable for IMG applicants as the next step in oscillation will be the down turn in the cycle. US senior (AMG) match rates were worst in 2013 compared to previous years. It is possible that there may be a rebound in the US senior match rates in 2014, further compounding down turn of other group match rates. Though over all the match process is subject to many variables and it is difficult to foretell how the match season is going to be, this analysis seems to portend a tougher than usual outlook for applicants. This has a learning point, if you fail to secure a residency this cycle, do not give up and feel that you have failed because your profile was not worthy. It may just be that you were unlucky to be applying at a time when overall conditions were generally bleak.