Top IMG Friendly Specialties

Top IMG Friendly Specialties of 2021 Residency Match

If you are an International Medical Graduate (IMG), picking which medical specialties to apply to starts with learning about the top IMG-friendly fields. Using the information provided by NRMP’s® Results and Data 2021 Main Residency Match®, we’ve determined the top IMG friendly specialties. First, let’s review some general Match statistics to understand the big picture.

Match 2021 General Statistics

35,194 PGY-1 Positions Filled

18,435 US Senior (92.8% Match Rate)

806 US Graduate (48.2% Match Rate)

6,597 Osteopathic (66.7% Match Rate)

3,152 US IMG (59.5% Match Rate)

4,356 Non-US IMG (54.8% Match Rate)

 

Top IMG Friendly Specialties of 2021 by Ratio

PGY-1 IMG % Filled Positions US IMG Non-US IMG MD Senior MD Grad DO Senior DO Grad
Pathology 51.1% 589 70 231 198 32 55 3
General Surgery (Preliminary) 44.0% 612 78 191 272 17 47 6
Internal Medicine (Categorical) 39.6% 8632 1204 2212 3523 146 1482 63
Neurology 32.2% 702 47 179 358 8 107 3
Family Medicine 27.4% 4472 781 443 1606 125 1440 77
Pediatrics 19.3% 2860 223 329 1749 31 519 7
Child Neurology 19.0% 147 6 22 100 1 18 0
Psychiatry 16.2% 1904 176 133 1205 41 332 17
Radiology 13.6% 118 8 8 71 3 3 28
General Surgery (Categorical) 10.0% 1564 83 73 1029 133 228 18
PM&R 9.6% 156 10 5 88 4 49 0
Transitional Year 8.6% 1272 60 49 845 14 302 2
Anesthesiology 8.0% 1457 50 66 1024 38 268 10
Neurosurgery 7.3% 234 6 11 198 11 6 2
Emergency Medicine 6.3% 2826 143 35 1765 62 790 31
OBGYN 6.0% 1457 54 34 1088 40 225 16
Internal Med-Peds 6.0% 385 7 16 313 2 47 0
Orthopedic Surgery 0.9% 866 5 3 699 40 107 12
Dermatology 0.0% 30 0 0 25 0 5 0

 

Top IMG Friendly Specialties by Number of IMGs

Internal Medicine (Categorical) 3416
Family Medicine 1224
Pediatrics 552
Psychiatry 309
Pathology 301
General Surgery (Preliminary) 269
Neurology 226
Emergency Medicine 178
General Surgery (Categorical) 156
Anesthesiology 116
Transitional Year 109
OBGYN 88
Child Neurology 28
Internal Med-Peds 23
Neurosurgery 17
Radiology 16
PM&R 15
Orthopedic Surgery 8
Dermatology 0

According to the NRMP:

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

Internal Medicine (categorical) (1,204)

Family Medicine (781)

Pediatrics (categorical) (223)

Psychiatry (176)

Emergency Medicine (143)

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

Internal Medicine (categorical) (2,212)

Family Medicine (443)

Pediatrics (categorical) (329)

Pathology (231)

Neurology (179)

Other IMG Friendly Factors

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

  • 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 Residency Experts. You can also check out Residency Experts’ helpful tips on Letters of Recommendation by reading Your Complete Residency Letter of Recommendation Guide.
  • 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 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 MyERAS Application materials, program research, and more.

We hope this information about the top IMG friendly specialties has been insightful. Visit Match A Resident to see how our Customized Program Lists can help you prepare for a successful Match season!

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