Top IMG Friendly Specialties of 2020 Residency Match

If you are an International Medical Graduate (IMG), picking which medical specialties to apply to starts with first learning about the top IMG friendly specialties themselves. Using the information provided by NRMP’s® Results and Data 2020 Main Residency Match®, we were able to figure out which medical specialties had the highest percentage of US and Non-US IMGs in the positions filled for each specialty from last year’s Match. First, however, it is good to review some general match statistics in order to understand the big picture.

Match 2020 General Statistics   

34,266 PGY-1 Positions Filled 

18,108 US Senior (93.9% Match Rate)

693 US Graduate (45.6% Match Rate)

6,215 Osteopathic (86.9% Match Rate)

3,154 US IMG (61.0% Match Rate)

4,222 Non-US IMG (61.2% Match Rate)

 

Top IMG Friendly Specialties of 2020 by Ratio

PGY-1 IMG % Filled Positions US IMG Non-US IMG MD Senior MD Grad DO Senior DO Grad
Pathology 48.7% 587 54 232 204 26 67 4
General Surgery (Preliminary) 41.5% 583 82 160 290 15 31 5
Internal Medicine (Categorical) 38.9% 8324 1123 2116 3496 140 1389 59
Neurology 35.8% 665 56 182 317 6 103 1
Radiology 29.3% 116 10 24 50 2 28 2
Family Medicine 27.6% 4313 787 405 1543 120 1382 65
Pediatrics 20.0% 2812 222 340 1731 31 483 5
Psychiatry 15.9% 1838 164 129 1138 50 335 21
General Surgery (Categorical) 11.6% 1531 98 80 1033 105 202 13
Transitional Year 10.4% 1230 78 50 822 13 260 7
Anesthesiology 9.9% 1369 58 78 936 25 262 9
Neurosurgery 7.8% 232 6 12 203 8 3 0
Emergency Medicine 7.0% 2652 155 30 1713 43 683 28
OBGYN 6.5% 1440 58 36 1089 26 221 10
Dermatology 6.5% 31 0 2 23 0 6 0
Internal Med-Peds 6.3% 381 15 9 316 5 36 0
PM&R 6.0% 151 7 2 81 1 60 0
Child Neurology 2.6% 151 3 1 111 2 20 0
Orthopedic Surgery 1.4% 844 5 7 686 28 112 6

Top IMG Friendly Specialties by Number of IMGs

Internal Medicine 3239
Family Medicine 1192
Pediatrics 562
Psychiatry 293
Pathology 286
General Surgery (Preliminary) 242
Neurology 238
Emergency Medicine 185
General Surgery (Categorical) 178
Anesthesiology 136
Transitional Year 128
OBGYN 94
Radiology 34
Internal Med-Peds 24
Neurosurgery 18
Orthopedic Surgery 12
PM&R 9
Child Neurology 4
Dermatology 2

 

According to the NRMP:

The top five IMG friendly specialties for US-IMGs were:

Internal Medicine (categorical) (1,123)

Family Medicine (787)

Pediatrics (categorical) (222)

Psychiatry (164)

Emergency Medicine (155)

 

The top five IMG friendly specialties for Non-US IMGs were:

Internal Medicine (categorical) (2,116)

Family Medicine (405)

Pediatrics (categorical) (340)

Neurology (categorical, advanced, and physician positions) (235)

Pathology (232)

 

Other IMG Friendly Factors

Beyond statistics, there are 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 in 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. Learn more at www.residencyexperts.com.  
  • Finances –  Applying to residency can be expensive. The suggested minimum applications for IMG candidates is 100 programs per specialty which add 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 number 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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