This week, we’re doing a deep dive into the 2017 Ophthalmology Match Summary Report which is actually outside the NRMP match.
The match is the program you apply to while in your medical school to determine where you’re going to do your residency. The people that made the algorithm actually won a Nobel Prize for it and it’s used in a lot of different things now other than the match. However, not every specialty participates in the main ERAS match which stands for Electronic Residency Application Service put on by the NRMP (National Resident Matching Program). Most specialties are part of the main match so when you hear “The Match,” this is what most people are talking about.
Today, we’re covering Ophthalmology, the rare exception that does not participate in the normal match but it’s done by the SFMatch system. While normal medical student match for their specialties in March, students applying for Ophthalmology match in January.
[03:30] Spots Offered, Filled, and Left
Looking at Page 2 of the Ophthalmology Match Summary Report 2017, they have data going all the way back to 2008 so it’s nice to see a ten-year data for matching. In 2008, there were 454 spots offered and 468 in 2017. It hasn’t been growing a ton and what’s interesting is the number of spots left open after the match which is 1 in 2008 and 6 in 2017. Ophthalmology is typically one of those residency matches that are very competitive and the fact here are 6 left.
As for Ophthalmology, there are 6 spots left probably because students weren’t applying broadly enough. Everybody wants to be in New York or California and nobody things about the “flyover” states in the middle of the country. If you are flexible, this is a big opportunity for you to look at those other options as well.
[05:35] Means for Matched and Unmatched
The matched mean for 2017 was 243, which is a very high number, and the unmatched mean is 227.
Once you’re in medical school, you know that the MCAT and GPA are important but usually, a strong application can help overcome some deficiencies in some areas.
But this is one of the unfortunate things with the match is that when it comes to matching.
[06:50] Allopathic and Osteopathic Students
Still found on Page 2 of the data, the U.S. Allopathic Seniors made up 80% of those that matched in Ophthalmology. U.S. Allopathic Graduates were 7%. So 87% of all the physicians that matched were from U.S. MD schools. 4% were from osteopathic schools.
You can’t just base on this data to say that you’re not going to a DO school because that’s not always the case. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go to an osteopathic school. It just means it’s going to be harder for you to go into ophthalmology if you go to a DO school. There could be a number of reasons why it’s harder. Probably it’s because you don’t have exposure to academic medical center where most of these ophthalmology residencies may be. So you’re not getting the exposure MD students are going to get. Or it could be because you need to travel around a bit for your clinical rotations so it’s harder to build relationships with program directors and get that experience and research. So if you’re in a DO school, don’t give up on being an ophthalmologist. Just think through what else you may need to do.
[09:10] U.S. Allopathic and Osteopathic Seniors and Graduates
Looking at Page 3 of the data, 26% of U.S. Osteopathic Seniors matched. It’s interesting to note that while 34 registered for the match, only 19 participated in the match and 5 of those matched. Comparing that to 89% of U.S Allopathic Seniors that matched, it’s a big difference.
For U.S Osteopathic Graduates who are DO students that took some time off probably to do some research or maybe they didn’t match in the prior year, nobody matched while for US Allopathic Graduates, 19 matched which makes up 44%. These are those who graduated from an MD school and went off to do the research to strengthen their application.
36% of International Graduates matched which is a higher number than osteopathic students. Again, this does not mean that you should go to a Caribbean school because your chances are higher just because you based it on these numbers. Interestingly in 2016, U.S. Osteopathic Seniors made up 41% match rate versus 23% for International Applicants.
[11:25] Choosing Your School
This is the key reason why I don’t recommend, if you’re premed, looking at match data to choose where you go to medical school because it varies from year to year, student to student, class to class. It has nothing to do with the school. It could be affiliated with the top ophthalmology residency and you get great exposure and it’s going to increase your chances of getting into an ophthalmology residency but it’s you that goes out to form that relationship with the residency program and form that network with the other residents, program directors, and the attending physicians.It’s you that goes out to get those letters of recommendation. It has nothing to do with the school. It’s you that does well on your boards and goes out and networks and builds those relationships to match in a competitive program.
[12:40] Average Number of Applications
Page 4 shows the Average Number of Applications per Matched Individual which is 70 in 2016 and 72 in 2017. Applying to medical schools, most people are freaking out over 20. This is 70. It’s not as bad as medical school where you’re writing secondaries for every school.
Compared to USMLE NRMP data where the matched versus unmatched usually has a big divide, for Ophthalmology match in 2016, those that went unmatched applied to 73 programs, which is just 3 programs more than those that matched. In 2017, there were 72 average number of applications per matched individual versus 67 for those that did not match.
[14:20] USMLE Step 1 Scores
The USMLE Step 1 Scores Information is shown on page 7 of the data. From an average USMLE Step 1 score of 232 for those that matched in 2008, it went up by 11 points to 243 in January 2017. For those unmatched, the average USMLE Step 1 score was 212 in 2008 and 227 in 2017, which went up by 15 points. When you see numbers like this, it means it’s getting more and more competitive. It was even higher in 2016 with 244 that matched and 229 for unmatched.
[16:00] Medscape Lifestyle and Physician Compensation Reports
Based on the 2017 Medscape Physician Compensation Report, Ophthalmology is a little bit higher at $345K for average annual physician compensation. Orthopedics is at the top at $489K. Around Ophthalmology is General Surgery at 352K and Emergency Medicine at $339K.
Ophthalmology had a 12% increase in their compensation from last year. For the percentage of physicians that feel fairly compensated, Ophthalmology is at 53%.
Whether they would choose medicine again, Ophthalmology is on the higher end at 79% and whether they would choose the same specialty again, Ophthalmology is there near the top at 93% so they seem to like their job.
Moving on to the Medscape Lifestyle Report 2017, Ophthalmology is near the bottom of burnout at 43% while Psychiatry is the lowest at 42%. As how severe is burnout, it’s still near the bottom at 4 on a scale of 1-7. As to which physicians are the happiest, ophthalmologists are the second happiest at 74% outside of work and 42% at work.
[18:20] Final Thoughts
Ophthalmology residency is outside of the normal match (ERES/NRMP) which is through SFMatch. They match earlier in January instead of March for the NRMP. Check out the SFMatch.org for more information including some links and FAQs. They have lots of good information to help you get ahead so come match time, you’re not surprised with information at the last minute.
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