Background: It is difficult to determine relative competitiveness of surgical training positions: there is no single source for matching process results and specialty-specific competitiveness may change over time. This study was undertaken to address these issues. Methods: Numbers of matched/unmatched students and positions offered/filled for surgical specialties were analyzed for specialty-specific trends in match rates and differences among specialty match rates over time. Results: From 1996 to 2000, match rates increased for neurological surgery, general surgery and otolaryngology; decreased for ophthalmology and urology and were unchanged for orthopedic surgery. Although the "most competitive" and "least competitive" specialties changed each year, unmatched student numbers uniformly exceeded unfilled position numbers. Conclusions: Match rates changed over time; no single specialty was consistently most or least competitive. Unmatched students were unlikely to successfully "scramble" for an advanced/categorical training position in any surgical specialty because of the uniformly very high fill rates.
- Graduate medical education
- National Resident Matching Program
- Residency matching process
- Surgical education
- Surgical training