Top 5 Most IMG Friendly Specialties 2017 Match

Top 5 Most IMG Friendly Specialties 2016 Match

After completing medical school, the next biggest decision of your medical career is which branch of medicine to dedicate your life. If you are an International Medical Graduate (IMG), your decision is made even more challenging by having to figure out which specialties are the most IMG friendly.

The information provided by NRMP’s® Results and Data 2016 Main Residency Match® was used to figure out which medical specialties had the highest percent of US and Non-US IMGs in the positions filled for each specialty from last year’s Match. IMG percentage was calculated by adding together the US and Non-US IMGs who obtained a residency position in the specialty, and calculated what percent of the total positions filled were IMGs.

For example, in Emergency Medicine there were:

1,894 Total Positions Filled

87 Positions Filled by US IMGs

23 Positions Filled by Non-US IMGs

110 Total Positions Filled by IMGs

5% Positions Filled by IMGs

Below is a chart with the results.

The Top 5 Most IMG Friendly Medical Specialties

Specialty Rank in Highest Percent of IMGs Specialty Total Positions Filled Positions filled by IMGs** Percent of total positions filled by IMGs
1 Internal Medicine


6,938 3,029 43%
2 Pathology 549 219 39%
3 Family Medicine 3,083 1109 35%
4 General Surgery (Preliminary) 843 276 32%
5 Psychiatry 1,373 294 21%

**Includes U.S. and Non-U.S. IMGs

Please note, the chart does not take into account the total amount of positions available. For example, while Pathology has a higher percentage of IMGs accepted into residency programs, there are less positions available than Psychiatry.

Beyond statistics, there are a other factors IMG residency candidates should consider when choosing medical specialties such as:

  • Specialty-wide USMLE score expectations – Some specialties are more competitive and have increased expectations of residency candidates. For example, General Surgery programs typically require higher USMLE scores than Psychiatry.
  • Previous work and clinical experiences – All specialties like to see some evidence of commitment and deep interest for the specialty. Specialties such as Family Medicine highly prefer to see some history of Family Medicine experience to prove your dedication.
  • Supporting documents – Another way to prove your interest and dedication to a specialty is having specialty specific supporting documents. You should work hard to obtain specialty specific Letters of Recommendation and a Personal Statement for each specialty you plan on applying to.
  • Finances –  Applying to residency can be expensive. The suggested minimum applications for IMG candidates is 100 programs per specialty which adds up to thousands of dollars. Make sure you assess your specialty decision carefully to make the best use of your resources.
  • Program choices and opportunities – Your choice may depend on how large the specialty you choose is and the amount of programs you qualify to apply to based on your professional credentials and each program’s application requirements. If you pick too narrow a specialty, you may need to prepare a backup specialty.   

Choosing a specialty will take time, care and consideration. While some specialties are less competitive than others, no one specialty is a guaranteed “In.” No matter which specialty you pick, you will still have to put lots of hard work into your ERAS Application materials, program research, and beyond.

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