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100+ page excerpt of

The Successful Match

Family Medicine: 

Steps to a Successful Residency Match

Step 1: Explore the Specialty


Before you pursue a career in family medicine, it's important to be well informed about the specialty. We've put together a great collection of articles and resources which are essential reading for the aspiring family medicine physician. These articles will give you a better idea of the pros and cons of a career in the field, trends in the specialty, and hot topic issues for trainees. 


Hot Topics, Concerns, and Future Directions in Family Medicine

Step 2: Review Family Medicine Match Data


U.S seniors are readily able to match into family medicine. In the 2018 NRMP Match, only 3.6% of U.S. seniors who applied to the field went unmatched.


Many osteopathic applicants match into allopathic family medicine residency programs. Osteopathic applicants may also apply to AOA-approved family medicine residency programs. There are 190 osteopathic residency programs.

A substantial number of residency positions are filled with international medical graduates every year. However, many IMGs fail to match. IMGs are classified as independent applicants, and, in 2018, 46.8% of U.S. IMGs applicants and 59% non-U.S. IMGs applicants went unmatched.


2019 NRMP Match Results

Charting Outcomes in the Match: US Allopathic Medical Students

Charting Outcomes in the Match: Osteopathic Medical Students

Charting Outcomes in the Match: International Medical Graduates

Step 3: Understand Residency Selection Criteria


"There are over 400 family medicine residency programs in the US," writes Dr. Michael Potter, Associate Professor of Family Medicine at the UCSF School of Medicine. "While it is relatively easy to get into many of these programs, there are many programs that are highly competitive. Some of these programs may have over a hundred applicants for five or ten slots." 


To maximize your chances of matching with your first-choice residency program in family medicine, you must become well informed as early as possible. In particular, you need to know the criteria residency programs use to select residents.


We recommend beginning with the following resources:


2018 NRMP Program Director Survey


Selection Criteria for Residency


Interview with Dr. Marianne Green

Step 4: Develop Your Strategy For Success

As competition for positions in the family medicine residency match intensifies, it's more important than ever to have in place the "right" strategy for success. To develop the optimal strategy, use our book, The Successful Match. It's been designated recommended or required reading by the Association of American Medical Colleges, American Medical Women's Association, and numerous allopathic and osteopathic medical schools. AMSA wrote the book "provides the medical student reader with detailed preparation for the matching process." For more powerful information, sign up for our weekly update below.

Step 5: Make The Most Of Your Preclinical Years

The preclinical years of medical school are important for students considering a career in family medicine. Read more


Step 6: Apply For Scholarships & Awards

Winning medical school scholarships and awards can provide a major boost to your residency application, and set you apart from your peers. Awards can be placed in the application, MSPE (Dean's Letter), letters of recommendation, and CV. We have found that interviewers often ask about awards during residency interviews. Read more

Step 7: Assess Your USMLE Step 1 Score or COMLEX 1 Score

The USMLE or COMLEX is an important factor in the family medicine residency selection process. In 2018, the mean USMLE Step 1 score among matched U.S. seniors was 220 and the mean COMLEX 1 score among matched osteopathic students was 506. Among unmatched U.S. seniors and osteopathic students, the mean score was 206 and 475, respectively. Read more

Step 8: Strive For Success During Clerkships

Grades in required or core clerkships are very important to family medicine residency programs. In a NRMP survey of family medicine residency programs, 63% cited "grades in required clerkships" as a factor in selecting applicants to interview. Family medicine rotations are also of obvious importance to international medical graduates seeking positions in the field. Read more

Step 9: Prepare A Powerful Residency Application

In my experience working with applicants, errors are common in the ERAS Application.  Although spelling and grammatical errors are frequently seen, equally common and dangerous are the less well appreciated errors. Read more

Step 10: Develop A Powerful Personal Statement

In a survey of family medicine residency programs, 87% cited the personal statement as a factor in selecting applicants to interview. Read more

Step 11: Deliver An Impressive Interview Performance

An invitation to interview is exciting news, and confirmation that you're considered a competitive candidate for a residency position. However, your work is not done, and you need to be diligent in your interview preparation to maximize your chances of success. Read more

What if I didn't match?


If you were unsuccessful during your initial match cycle, you'll need to sit down with your dean or advisor to review your match strategy. In planning your reapplication, each of the steps above becomes even more important.


For those who seek additional expert assistance, we can provide that. Dr. Desai has had significant experience in helping re-applicants match successfully. 


This is provided via a Strategy for Success Session. Dr. Desai will perform a comprehensive review of your credentials, assess your strengths and weaknesses, and provide you with a specific plan to implement tailored to your unique situation.