Match lists at top 5 schools

I recently took an in-depth look at match lists at a subset of top 10 schools because one disgruntled student from WashU complained on SDN about two things: 1) high inbreeding (where students stay at their home institution for residency) and 2) low numbers matching to “competitive” specialties.

After the cut/jump, I use the 2011 and 2010 match lists from WashU, Harvard, Hopkins, Stanford, Penn, and, for the last question, Columbia to address several questions: 1) what are the rates of inbreeding, 2) what proportion matches at the most competitive specialties, 3) what is the rate of matching to the most reputable internal medicine residencies, and 4) what is the rate of matching to the most reputable surgical residencies?

Question 1: inbreeding

What percentage of all categorical matches (i.e. excluding preliminary and transitional year matches) are to an affiliated hospital of the medical school?

WUMS 2011     - 26%
WUMS 2010     - 29%
HMS 2011      - 45%
HMS 2010      - 37%
JHU 2011      - 35%
JHU 2010      - 34%
Stanford 2011 - 33%
Stanford 2010 - 26%
Penn 2011     - 38%
Penn 2010     - 38%

Conclusion: High end: HMS. Low end: WashU. “Inbreeding” is relatively common at top schools (average roughly one-third).

Question 2: competitive specialties

What percentage of matches were in a specialty considered “most competitive” (>81% of spots nationwide filled) — plastic and reconstructive surgery, orthopedic surgery, otolaryngology / ENT / head and neck surgery, neurological surgery, ophthalmology, diagnostic radiology, and radiation oncology? [Wow. Basically the surgical specialties plus rays, minus urology.] Data was unavailable for Hopkins’ 2011 match.

WUMS 2011     - 26%
WUMS 2010     - 30%
HMS 2011      - 26%
HMS 2010      - 29%
JHU 2010      - 21%
Stanford 2011 - 31%
Stanford 2010 - 33%
Penn 2011     - 29%
Penn 2010     - 17%

Conclusion: High end: Stanford. Everything else is a mixed bag. Hopkins’ single data point is low. A fifth to a third of graduates at top schools go into the seven most competitive specialties.

For other details and a breakdown by specialty on question 2, see my original post on SDN.

Question 3: internal medicine match

What proportion of students matched went to a top internal medicine program?

I made two lists based on USNWR reputation ratings: Primary (1) list (top 10 internal medicine AND hospital honor roll): Harvard/MGH, Harvard/BWH, Johns Hopkins/Johns Hopkins Hospital, UCSF/UCSF Medical Center, Duke, Penn/HUP, Columbia/NYP, WashU/Barnes-Jewish, UWashington, UMichigan.

Secondary (2) list (ranked [top 30] internal medicine AND hospital honor roll): Yale, Stanford, Cornell/NYP, Mayo, Cleveland Clinic, Mt Sinai, Vanderbilt, Pittsburgh/UPMC, UCLA/Ronald Reagan.

The third column below shows the percentage of matches that went to internal medicine (regardless of program reputation, excludes primary care, preliminary matches, preventive medicine, med-peds, etc.). Sorry for mixing up scales. To convert the third column into units of the left two columns, multiply by two (making it per 200 instead of percent).

		1	1+2	% IM
WUSM 2011	31.0	36.2	22%
WUSM 2010	17.5	21.1	18%
WUSM avg***	24.3	28.7	20%
HMS 2011	31.7	37.8	21%
HMS 2010	32.4	38.0	21%
HMS avg***	32.0	37.9	21%
JHU 2010	40.3	43.7	24%
Stanford 2011	16.7	33.3	23%
Stanford 2010	13.5	24.7	13%
Stanford avg***	15.0	28.9	18%
Penn 2011	19.5	24.1	17%
Penn 2010	28.8	37.4	21%
Penn avg***	24.3	30.9	19%

Conclusion: A mixed bag (or, if you’re an optimist looking at the big picture, they’re all damn good!). Strong: Hopkins 2010. Weak: WUMS 2010, Stanford 2010, Penn 2011. Year-to-year variability is high. A majority to vast majority of IM matches at these top schools go to the best (top 20?) IM programs.

For justification and other details on question 3, see my original post on SDN.

Question 4: surgery match

What proportion of students matched went to a top surgery or surgical specialty program?

This was tougher because numbers within each specialty is much smaller than for IM, so there is much more year-to-year variation. For that reason, I combine both years (2011+2010) when possible. “Surgical” includes general surgery, neurological surgery, orthopedic surgery, otolaryngology / ENT / head and neck surgery, plastic and reconstructive surgery, urological surgery. I added in Columbia to the mix because they’re known for producing large numbers of surgical matchers (“College of Surgeons & Surgeons”).

I calculated the number of surgical matches to hospitals that have “significant”, “strong”, or “very strong” reputations with specialists, and normalized them to match list/class size. The exception is plastics, which has no rankings that I know of, but I include all of plastics matches because they’re a small and highly competitive field. 1) Any plastics residency is probably a strong one. 2) The applicants who don’t match into plastics probably end up in general surgery. Out of any specialty, plastic surgery applicants have the highest average of distinct specialties ranked in the match (2.3 for matched applicants, 2.6 for unmatched applicants). In other words, the average plastics applicant also ranked a backup specialty.

School	General	Neuro	Ortho	ENT	Plast	Urology	Total 	% surg
WUMS	5.2	0.9	6.1	3.5	3.5	1.7	20.9	18.3%
HMS	8.4	7.1	6.5	2.6	4.5	1.9	31.0	18.2%
JHU	6.7	5.0	3.4	5.0	0.0	5.0	25.1	16.8%
Stanfor	8.1	5.8	11.6	4.6	4.6	1.2	35.9	19.7%
Penn	6.6	2.9	5.1	2.2	0.7	1.5	19.0	12.9%
Columbi	6.6	3.3	13.2	3.9	2.0	4.6	33.6	24.0%

Conclusions: Another mixed bag (they’re all so good! on average three-fourths of surgery matches go to top programs!). In general surgery matches, WUSM is weakest compared to its peers, with HMS and Stanford dominating the group. In neurosurgery, WUSM is weakest compared to its peers, with HMS dominating the group, followed by Stanford. In orthopedics, the clear winners are Columbia and Stanford. In ENT, Hopkins and Stanford have small leads. In urology, Columbia and Hopkins take the lead. In plastics, WUSM falls in the upper half of its peers (in fact, one SEM above the mean), with HMS and Stanford taking a very slight edge.

The sum of all surgical specialties gives the following rank order: Stanford>Columbia>HMS>Hopkins>WashU>Penn.

For more justification and other details on question 4, see my original post on SDN.



9 thoughts on “Match lists at top 5 schools

  1. i understand you evaluated inbreeding and matching into competitive specialties bc of a comment someone made but i think it would be more useful to consider whether these are even worth considering in the first place? there are some students that despite going to a large academic center for med school, do not want to do their residency at one. the top ranked schools dont necessarily have the “best” residency programs or even a program that fits the needs of individual students. also, the # matching into competitive specialties is almost completely useless. it doesn’t reflect the number of students applying to the residencies and while one school may have fewer people going into something like derm, it may be the case that 100% of those applying matched-something that may not be true at another school with a higher overall number. just something to think about as there is much more that goes into these sorts of things. a more useful interpretation would be looking at how many people get their first, second or third choice residency slot per school. i know that at my school, virtually 100% of people get their 1st or 2nd choice but a school with a more “impressive” match list doesn’t necessarily reflect that in any way. additionally, the differences between the top schools are pretty much recognized as being more or less negligible which seems to be reflected in your analysis as well.

    • It’s a compilation of lists that students at those schools posted onto studentdoctornetwork on Match List threads.

  2. I agree with this analysis which mimics my experience. That being said, the numbers reflect the interests and competitiveness of the med school class as a whole, not necessarily what an incoming student may expect at the end of his meld school experience. I disagree with the commenter on matching to top ranked choices. Med schools advertise this, but you can only rank places you interviewed at. Lower caliber med schools seniors often don’t even get an interview at their true top choice, so they rank “of the places they interviewed at” one, two, three. Then they get number one if their abbreviated, lower tier list of schools and the med school will tout that their grads get their first-choice which is misleading.

  3. Also I find it weird that you don’t list urology or dematology as a competitive specialty as they routinely make the top 3. Certainly, higher than ent or ophtho or ortho. A better measure of competitiveness would be unmatch rate – how many people apply over how many spots available. All that data is available through nrmp and aua match.

  4. Also, this is skewed because at some of these places, many of these specialty residencies are going to MD/PhD graduates, not MDs.

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