It was the largest matching process in the history of the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS) and is likely to be the biggest we will see for some time.
But for many observers, the real story of this year’s match between medical school graduates and residency programs in Canada was the continued growth in the number of graduates selecting family medicine first. This number was at an all-time high.
Results from the CaRMS match were presented in Vancouver at the annual meeting of the Canadian Conference on Medical Education by Sandra Banner, executive director and CEO of the non-profit service.
This year there were 5,285 applicants for 909 residency programs. A total 90% of Canadian medical school graduates were matched to their first choice of discipline — a result that has been consistent for the past five years
“Inevitably, we matched more Canadians into postgraduate training than (at) any time in the past … because (total) class size is the highest it has ever been,” said Banner in an interview. She added the numbers should now plateau, as graduating class sizes have stabilized and there is no more expansion planned.
In the first of two iterations of the match, 2,729 Canadian graduates were matched while 133 went unmatched. Among international medical graduates (IMGs) 351 were matched and 1,445 went unmatched.
For 2015, 38.5% of graduates selected family medicine first. This number is up slightly from 38.2% in 2014 but a dramatic increase from a decade ago, when 24% of medical school graduates selected family medicine. After two iterations, 98% of family medicine slots across the country were filled, with only 44 family residency positions unfilled.
CaRMS notes the growth of family medicine as a choice has increased because of the development of distributed campuses, improved fees for family physicians and revamped medical curricula.
Banner, who is retiring after 30 years with the organization, noted that this year’s increasing number of male graduates choosing family medicine is a new development, an increase of about 5% since 2013.
The growth in family medicine as a first-choice specialty has been climbing steadily since 2004. The shift is occurring at the same time as other specialties, notably surgery, are reporting some unemployment.
Another change is that 21% fewer IMGs applied for Canadian programs, a dip that can be attributed to the fact these graduates must now write the National Assessment Collaboration exam prior to applying.