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A Deep Dive Into OB/GYN Residency Match Data

Session 27

This week I’m breaking down and reviewing the residency match data for OB/GYN. There are a handful of surgical specialties thought to be a good mix of medical and surgical specialties. OB/GYN is one of them, along with ophthalmology, urology, and ENT.

How hard is it to match into an OB/GYN residency program? Are OB/GYN doctors happy with their choice of specialty? How much do OB/GYN docs make as a salary? If OB/GYN interests you, take a listen to this episode to see what you need to do to get into an OB/GYN residency!

[02:30] OB/GYN Residency Match Data Summary

Table 1 of the NRMP Main Match Data for 2017 shows the summary of the match, and OB/GYN is listed separately from everything else having its own category. There are 241 OB/GYN programs. To compare this to other specialties, General Surgery has 267 programs, Internal Medicine has 467 programs, and Emergency Medicine has 191 programs.

While OB/GYN has 241 programs, there only 1,288 spots available, compared to Emergency Medicine with 191 programs and 2,047 spots. That’s almost 800 more spots in Emergency Medicine residencies, even if there are 50 fewer programs. So there are fewer spots per program in OB/GYN.

Out of those 1,288 spots, there were 1,202 U.S. Senior applicants. This means there are fewer U.S. Seniors applying than there are spots available, which is a good thing. (For our conversation, U.S. Seniors based on this data specifically is referring to allopathic (MD) medical students. The NRMP is the match for allopathic medical schools.)

There are a total of 1,753 students applying. Aside from U.S. Seniors, there could be physicians from other countries applying for an OB/GYN residency here in the U.S. They could be Caribbean grads, DO students, etc. Only 81.4% of the U.S. Seniors matched, so out of 1,202 U.S. Senior applicants, 1,049 matched and 153 did not match.

There could be a number of reasons why those 153 U.S. Seniors did not match for residency. Maybe they weren’t competitive enough, or maybe they interviewed poorly. Maybe they didn’t apply to enough residencies or performed poorly on their audition rotations.

[Related Post: What is OB/GYN? A Community Doc Shares Her Thoughts]

[05:45] SOAP and PGY-1 OB/GYN Programs

For OB/GYN total, 100% of residency spots were filled. If for some reason you’re trying to Scramble, which is now called SOAP, for OB/GYN in 2017, there were no spots available to SOAP.

There are only 19 PGY-1 OB/GYN programs. Typically for PGY-1 spots, you have a year of medicine, surgery, or a transitional year which is a mix of medicine and surgery. It’s pretty interesting that OB/GYN has a prelim year. So for the students that needed to SOAP, maybe they were able to get a PGY-1 spot.

So there were 19 programs and 23 positions offered, which seems to be just an extra spot for interns, and then 8 programs went unfilled. 142 U.S. Seniors applied (of 202 total applicants) for these 23 positions, and only 6 U.S. Seniors matched. As to why this is the case, those U.S. Seniors probably applied to both categorical OB/GYN spots and the prelim spot, so you get a lot more applicants to the PGY-1 spot that hopefully matched in the categorical OB/GYN spot and didn’t need to go onto the prelim year.

If this is all a bit confusing, that’s okay! Just take a look at the table. We’re all learning something here. I didn’t even know OB/GYN had prelim spots before this.

[09:00] Trends in the OB/GYN Match Data

Table 2 shows who matched into the specialty. For OB/GYN, there are 1,288 spots for the categorical programs, and all spots were filled. 1,049 were filled by U.S. Seniors, so 81.4% of all spots went to U.S. Seniors who are still in school. 11 of those spots went to U.S. graduates of MD schools who weren’t in school anymore—maybe they reapplied or took a year off to do some research. And there were 123 osteopathic/DO students who matched into an allopathic OB/GYN categorical spot.

Outside of the U.S. allopathic and osteopathic students, 64 U.S. international medical graduates (IMGs) matched into allopathic OB/GYN categorical spots, and 41 non-U.S. citizen IMGs matched. So 105 total graduates from non-U.S. medical schools matched.

Table 3 shows the growth of programs year over year (2013-2017). For OB/GYN, it’s been growing around 4.5-4.7% every year, and this is a good pace.

Table 8 shows the percentage of applicants filled by U.S. Seniors from 2013-2017. 81.4% of those that matched were U.S. Seniors in 2017, 77.5% in 2016, 79.8% in 2015, 76.5% in 2014, and 76.2% in 2013.

Table 9 shows how popular OB/GYN is compared to all of the other specialties. 4.7% of all applicants who matched into residencies matched into OB/GYN. To give you an idea of what that looks like, 7.4% matched into Emergency Medicine, 4.1% into Anesthesiology, and 5.4% into Psychiatry categorical residencies.

Table 10 looks specifically at U.S. Seniors who matched by specialty. 6% of all U.S. Seniors matched into OB/GYN. This is a good number. Table 11 shows osteopathic students who matched into OB/GYN.  4.2% of all osteopathic medical students matched into OB/GYN.

Table 12 shows foreign-trained physicians (international medical graduates) and only 1.6% of IMGs matched into OB/GYN. This makes sense because many of the subspecialties are harder to match into as an international medical graduate. Now compare this to 46% of all IMG’s matching into Internal Medicine.

Many of the subspecialties are harder to match into as an international medical graduate.Click To Tweet

[14:36] Applicant Choices by Specialty, Matched and Unmatched

Table 13 shows applicant choices by specialty. For OB/GYN with 1,288 total positions available and all of them matched. 968 of U.S. Seniors that matched only ranked OB/GYN programs. 198 U.S. Seniors ranked OB/GYN as their first specialty and had a different specialty after that. 36 students U.S. Seniors had a different specialty before OB/GYN.

This is common, but I personally can’t understand ranking more than one career. This is your residency training, your specialty. While yes, it is possible to change careers at some point, don’t you only want to do residency once? I wonder how it feels to open up your envelope seeing that you matched into a specialty that you didn’t rank first. My advice is to try to narrow it down to one specialty and only apply to programs in that specialty. The data shows that when you rank more than one specialty, it starts to work against you. There’s probably some psychology working in there, but it’s interesting information.

My advice is to try to narrow it down to one specialty and only apply to residency programs in that one specialty.Click To Tweet

Table 14 shows the ones that actually matched who ranked their specialty as their only choice. For OB/GYN, there are 890 that matched out of the 968 that applied as their only choice.

Figure 6 shows the percentages of unmatched U.S. Seniors and independent applicants who ranked their specialty as their only choice. OB/GYN is near the bottom for total unmatched percentage at 15.4%. This is pretty good since we covered Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation before, and their unmatched rate is 27.5%. Family Medicine is 25.3%.

The majority of those unmatched applicants are the independent applicants. Unmatched U.S. Seniors is very small at 8.1% for OB/GYN (Refer to Table 14). Compared to other specialties, this percentage is on the higher end of U.S. Seniors unmatched. Anesthesiology is only 0.9% of U.S. Seniors, Internal Medicine is 0.5%, PM&R is 7.1%. So even though the total unmatched rate is 27.5% for PM&R and OB/GYN is 15.4%, the U.S. Seniors unmatched is still pretty high at 8.1%.

Table 18 covers SOAP information for 2016-2017, and as mentioned earlier, the 1,288 spots available for OB/GYN went completely filled. When you look at this, Table 1 shows you all of those that matched pre-SOAP, and if there are no programs available based on table 1 then obviously, no programs are available for SOAP. With the OB/GYN prelim year (PGY-1), there were 8 programs, 9 total spots available, and 8 of those spots went filled.

[20:27] Why You Should Only Apply to One Specialty

Looking at Chart 5 of Charting the Outcomes 2016, students who did not match ranked more specialties in their match list than those who did match. So these students were focusing their efforts on too many different places instead of honing in on one and putting all their cards on the table for one specialty.

Based on the data, it shows that those who spread out too thinly and applied to more programs didn’t match, whereas those who applied to fewer programs actually matched. Hence, focus your energy on one specialty. That said, there can be overlap with a lot of different specialties. For example, diagnostic radiology can be very similar to interventional radiology.

How Much Research Experience Do You Need to Match into OB/GYN?

Chart 8 shows the mean number of research experiences from U.S. Allopathic Seniors, and OB/GYN is higher for those that matched at 3.2, a decent number right in the middle of the pack. Orthopedic surgery is at 4 and Otolaryngology (ENT) is at 5.1. Those that did not match for OB/GYN had 2.8, so not a lot fewer.

Chart 12 shows the percentage of U.S. Seniors who are members of AOA (Alpha Omega Alpha), the honor society for medical students. For OB/GYN, 15% of those who matched and only 2% of those who did not match were members of AOA.

[Related episode: A Deep Dive Into Dermatology Match Data]

[23:25] How Many Residency Programs Should You Rank?

Moving down to the OB/GYN specific information, Table OB-1 (Page 123), the mean number for contiguous ranks for those who matched was 12.5. If you’ve listened to any of these deep dives before, you will know that this is one of the key indicators of who’s going to match and who’s not. You are, of course, more likely to match when you rank more programs. Those who matched applied to almost twice as many programs on average compared to those who did not match.

Those who matched into OB/GYN residency programs applied to almost twice as many programs on average compared to those who did not match.Click To Tweet

Step 1 Scores of Those Who Matched Into OB/GYN

The mean Step 1 score of those who matched into OB/GYN was 229, versus 214 for those who did not match. Mean Step 2 score was 244 for those who matched, while it is 230 for those who did not.

What Percent of OB/GYN Residents Went to a Top Research Medical School?

I get a lot of students asking if it matters where to go to medical school. The thing I always tell them is that it doesn’t matter unless you have aspirations of being a top academic at Harvard or Stanford. If that’s your ambition, then think about going to one of those more elite schools.

But for OB/GYN specifically, only 31.2% of those who matched came from one of the 40 schools that receive the most NIH research funding. This means most of the students are coming from somewhere else. You don’t have to go to an elite school to match into OB/GYN. To me, the amount of NIH funding that goes to a medical school doesn’t actually tell me anything about the quality of schools—it just means the school does a lot of research and is good at writing grants for money.

The amount of NIH funding a medical school receives doesn't actually tell me anything about the quality of school—it just means the school does a lot of research and is good at writing grants for money.Click To Tweet

[26:25] Are OB/GYN doctors happy? Are they burned out?

Looking at the Medscape Lifestyle Report, it tells us that OB/GYNs are pretty burned out, being the second highest on the list at 56%, next to Emergency Medicine at 59%. Slide 3 shows the severity of burnout, and OB/GYN is near the top at 4.3 in a scale of 1 to 7 (where 1 equals “It does not interfere with my life” and 7 equals “It is so severe that I am thinking of leaving medicine altogether.”)

OB/GYN docs are pretty burned out, being the second highest on the list at 56%, next to Emergency Medicine docs at 59%.Click To Tweet

When you look at all of the specialties listed here, none of them dropped below 3.9, so it seems everybody is on the way out. This is one of the questions for premeds out there: Why do you want to enter the medical field, when it’s shown that so many doctors experience burn out? You have to be ready to answer that question in your medical school interviews.

Slide 18 shows which physicians are the happiest. OB/GYN is right in the middle at 69% happy outside of work and 32% happy at work.

[Related episode: A Burnout Story and What You Can Do to Avoid It]

How Much Money Do OB/GYN Doctors Make?

Moving on to the Medscape Compensation Report 2017, OB/GYN is near the middle at $286K for average annual physician compensation. Orthopedics is first at $489K, and Pediatrics at the very bottom at $202K.

[Related episode: Orthopedic Surgery Match Data Deep Dive]

Slide 18 shows which physicians feel fairly compensated, and OB/GYN is near the bottom at 48%. In terms of whether they would choose medicine again, OB/GYN is second from the bottom at 72%, just above Neurology at 71%, while Rheumatology is on top at 83%, followed by Psychiatry at 82%.

When asked whether they would choose the same specialty again, OB/GYN is close to the bottom at 76%.

[29:30] Final Thoughts

The data suggests that OB/GYN doctors are not very happy with their career, with a significant percentage saying they would not choose the same specialty again. But information is power. Knowledge is power. So take this information and use it to your advantage.

A lot of people go into specialties not knowing enough about the specialty or what their life is going to be like, and this why we have this podcast. Take this information and use it, so you can make an informed decision.

A lot of people go into medical specialties not knowing enough about the specialty. That's why we have this podcast. Click To Tweet

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