30 Percent of UNM Medical Students Stay in State

March 21, 2005

Contact: Jennifer Riordan, 272-0261 office, 220-0702 cell; Bridgid Isworth, 463-6044 cell


Most fourth-year medical students at The University of New Mexico (UNM) found their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow last week. Known as "Match day," students discovered where they will undertake their residency training for the next three to seven years.

Of the 68 UNM senior students who applied for residency positions through the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP), 30 percent will stay in New Mexico, undertaking residency at UNM or other medical centers in the state. This number is down 11 percent from last year. Of those leaving the state, 34 percent will venture to western or bordering states, and 36 percent will move to east and central states.

Continuing a popular trend, the largest number of UNM medical students (44 percent) opted to undertake residency training in one of the primary care specialties of family practice, internal medicine, or pediatrics. However, compared to 2000, when 63 percent of graduates chose a primary care specialty, this number has dropped considerably.

According to the NRMP, student preferences for residencies in specialties such as dermatology, emergency medicine, general surgery, orthopedic surgery and plastic surgery remain highly competitive. Also, the number of first-year family practice positions available through the Match continues to decline (3,183 positions in 2000 to 2,761 positions in 2005), as does U.S. medical school seniors' interest in these positions. The number of these positions filled by graduating U.S. medical students decreased for the eighth consecutive year.

The Match, conducted annually by the NRMP, uses a computer algorithm to match preferences of applicants with preferences of residency programs, in order to fill the available training positions at U.S. teaching hospitals. Both senior medical students and residency programs must complete a residency application and interview process. Once completed, students rank their top residency preferences and the residency programs rank the students. This year, nationwide nearly 83 percent of all matched applicants were paired with one of their top three residency program choices.

The UNM School of Medicine has a unique program that prepares medical students for their residency experience. The program tailors to hands-on experience outside the traditional classroom. Through the implementation of the Problem-Based Learning Methodology, medical students have the opportunity to study and diagnose actual medical cases. This allows students to learn the basics of medical procedures and prepare them for the practical medical skills needed in their residencies.

The UNM School of Medicine (SOM) has seen many changes take place since the first medical school class entered in 1964. Currently, 28 percent of SOM residents are "home grown" and stay in New Mexico. In addition, 25 percent of SOM students are chosen by the top five residency programs in the country. The 2004 edition of U.S. News & World Report's Best Graduate Schools issue ranked the UNM School of Medicine's rural medicine training program second in the country and primary care program 12th in the United States.

Contact: Jennifer Riordan, 272-3322

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