UME/GME Program Resources

Application Inflation

Every year, medical students are applying to an increasing number of internal medicine residency programs. However, the data do not support the pervasive belief that US senior medical students are less successful in the NRMP Main Residency Match or that the Match is becoming more competitive over time. As a result of misconceptions, there has been a 28% increase in IM categorical applications between 2013-2016 among US and Canadian medical graduates.

The AAIM Medical Student to Resident Interface Committee has developed several resources to help students, residents, advisors, and residency faculty and staff combat application inflation, including recommendations in a peer-reviewed journal to inform the national debate and a quick fact sheet to provide quick, hands on knowledge about the problem.  Future efforts will bring forward best practices for learners, educators, and institutions to dispel myths and alleviate fear, promote holistic review, and ensure applicants find the best fit.

Match Facts and Data

While the number of internal medicine categorical positions available in the Match has risen 33% from 2012-2016:


  • The number of US and Canadian medical graduate (USG) applicants for internal medicine categorical programs has only risen by 10% between 2013 and 2016, the number of IMG applying to IM rose by only 7%.
  • The average number of categorical applications per USG climbed from 27.2 in the 2013 ERAS cycle to 34.8 in 2016, a 28% increase. Even among AOA Honor Society members, the number of applications per student has increased from 19.9 to 25.6, a 29% increase.
  • In this same period, the average number of internal medicine categorical applications per international medical graduate (IMG) rose to 77.
  • The average number of applications per internal medicine categorical program has increased by 15% overall between 2013 and 2016 to over 3,000 applications per program.
  • The average number of applications from USGs received by each categorical internal medicine program from 2013-2016 has increased 32% from 431 to 569, while applications from IMGs for each program rose from 2,243 to 2,514, a 12% increase.


  • The match rate for US allopathic seniors for all specialties has remained stable since 1982.
  • For the 2016 Residency Match, US allopathic seniors filled 47% of all available internal medicine categorical positions.
  • Osteopathic applicants (7%), previous graduates of US allopathic medical schools (2%), and internal medical graduates (43%) filled remaining positions. 86 positons remained unfilled after the Match.
  • 98.5% of US allopathic senior internal medicine applicants matched in 2016; only 50 US grads (1.5%) went unmatched.

Application Inflation Fact Sheet

Download Fact Sheet

NRMP data come from: 2016 Main Residency Match - Results and Data.

ERAS data come from 2016 ERAS data table except AOA data, which references 2015 ERAS data table.

Need Help?

Contact the AAIM Education & Research Team for more assistance.

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Tips for Medical Schools & Student Advisors

  • Begin advising students regarding specialty choice and competitiveness well before the beginning of fourth year.
  • Compile application, interview, and match data on recent graduates from your medical school. Share this data to facilitate student and advisor comparisons of competitiveness for residency programs based on graduates with similar characteristics.
  • Facilitate a shift towards holistic review (rather than relying on USMLE scores) by developing well-defined and universally accepted descriptive terms on MSPE and letters of recommendation to communicate fair and honest evaluations of students’ abilities.

Tips for Residency Faculty & Staff

  • Make minimum application requirements and information about characteristics of students who are typically offered an interview or match in your program readily accessible and transparent on your website.
  • Do not extend more interview invitations than the number of interview positions available.
  • Clearly communicate the expectation that an applicant must respond to an interview offer within three business days or risk the interview spot being given away.
  • Do not require a supplemental application or charge any type of additional fee.
  • Inform all applicants of their status (invited, on hold, rejected) once a decision is made.

Tips for Applicants

  • Meet with advisors early and do not wait until the beginning of the fourth year.
  • Access and use application, interview, and match data on recent graduates from your medical school to facilitate comparisons of your competitiveness for specialties and specific residency programs based on graduates with similar characteristics.
  • Do not apply to programs to which you have no intent to attend.
  • Do not accept offers to interview at more than one program on the same day.
  • Respectfully and quickly decline interview offers from a program that you would not want to attend.
  • Respond to a program’s interview offer within three days of receipt.
  • Provide at least one week’s notice prior to cancelling a scheduled interview

Application Inflation: Drivers, Consequences, and Potential Solutions

AAIM explores factors driving the perception of scarcity of internal medicine positions in the Match and makes recommendations to mitigate the increase in applications as well as discusses a validated common currency of assessment and Match process that ensures “best fit.”

Download the Article

Supplemental Applications

Concerned about recent decisions by some internal medicine residencies and fellowships to require additional information and fees from students and residents applying to training programs, the Alliance examined this issue and offers an opinion statement for use by individual and institutional members.

Download the Statement