Internal Medicine Residency Match 2020-2021
Internal medicine is a specialty in which all medical students rotate during the third year of medical school. If you suspect internal medicine might interest you, we recommend trying to schedule this core internal medicine rotation as early in the third year as possible. Since many medical students often have choices about where to rotate, we suggest completing this rotation at the student’s home or primary institution as opposed to an affiliate hospital. By the same token, it is important to schedule your internal medicine sub-internship early in the fourth year and also at your medical school’s most prestigious hospital/site.
Internal medicine residency starts in the PGY1 year and is three years in total. Many internal medicine residents, however, do further subspecialty training. The top internal medicine programs are very competitive so it is important to understand what your target programs will be. The vast majority of U.S. allopathic seniors match in internal medicine, but, the specialty remains competitive for international and osteopathic applicants.
What Criteria are most Important to Match in Internal Medicine?
Internal Medicine Match
Understanding what criteria are most important to internal medicine program directors and admissions committees will allow you to position yourself as well as possible to match in the specialty. It is important to know how competitive you are for internal medicine by reviewing data published by the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP). This data includes the 2018 Program Director’s Survey and Charting Outcomes in the Match for all three applicant types (allopathic students, osteopathic student and international students). By summarizing this data, together with our own knowledge of what makes a successful applicant, we will outline what you should do to match!
Internal Medicine Residency Match Data and Analysis
In 2018, there were a total of 7,916 internal medicine positions offered in the NRMP match and a total of 10,032 applicants for those positions.
Internal Medicine Elective/Audition Rotations
Interestingly, internal medicine is not a specialty that whole heartedly recommends audition rotations. In 2018, only 51% of program directors surveyed felt this was an important factor when deciding whom to interview. However, there may be some program directors at more competitive programs who recommend audition electives as a way to gain exposure to another institution, prove yourself on another “turf” and to have letters of reference from somewhere other than your home institution. Where to complete audition electives will largely depend on your competitiveness as an applicant and geographic preferences. Ideally, audition electives should be completed by October of the application year. For internal medicine in particular, it is important to discuss the possibility of doing audition rotations with an advisor or mentor from your home medical school. For most medical students, away rotations are not necessary regardless of where you hope to match. Internal medicine is a specialty that relies heavily on USMLE/COMLEX scores and the MSPE when deciding who to interview and rank.
Total number of Internal Medicine Residency (Categorical) Spots offered = 8116 (2019)
Total number of Internal Medicine Residency Programs (Categorical) = 564 (2019)
Internal Medicine Residency Letters of Reference
Letters of reference from academic internal medicine physicians with whom you have worked directly are the most important letters in your profile. If possible, strong letters of reference from leaders within an academic internal medicine department, such as a chair, program director, or clerkship director will also bolster your overall candidacy. If you have done any internal medicine or subspecialty research, a letter of reference from the principal investigator with whom you worked is equally valuable. We recommend a minimum of two letters from academic internal medicine physicians, but, if it’s possible to obtain three or four letters of reference from academic internal medicine faculty, that is considered ideal.
Internal Medicine Residency Match Data for Allopathic US Senior Medical Students
Internal Medicine Residency Match Statistics
Cumulatively, 10,032 applicants applied for 7,916 internal medicine residency positions in 2018. Of those 10,032 applicants, 3,406 were U.S. senior medical students. A mere 73 U.S. senior internal medicine applicants did not match in to internal medicine residencies last year. Therefore, 2.1% of allopathic U.S. senior internal medicine applicants did not match making internal medicine one of the least competitive specialties based on the data. Keep in mind, however, that the most desirable internal medicine programs are extremely competitive.
This is the data for those U.S. senior medical students who matched successfully:
- Mean number of contiguous ranks: 12.6
- Mean number of distinct specialties ranked: 1.0
- Mean USMLE Step 1 score: 233
- Mean USMLE Step 2 score: 246
- Mean number of research experiences: 3.1
- Mean number of abstracts, presentations, and publications: 5.1
- Mean number of work experiences: 2.9
- Mean number of volunteer experiences: 6.8
- Percentage who are AOA members: 16.7
- Percentage who graduated from one of the 40 U.S. medical schools with the highest NIH funding: 33.6
- Percentage who have Ph.D. degree: 4.9
- Percentage who have another graduate degree: 17.6
Internal Medicine Residency Match Data for Osteopathic Medical Students
Cumulatively, 10,032 applicants applied for 7,916 internal medicine residency positions in 2018. There were 894 osteopathic applicants. Of those, 830 matched. Therefore, 93% of osteopathic medical student internal medicine applicants matched in internal medicine.
The data for those osteopathic students who matched successfully:
- Mean number of contiguous ranks: 9.8
- Mean number of distinct specialties ranked: 1.1
- Mean COMLEX-USA Level 1 score: 554
- Mean COMLEX-USA Level 2-CE score: 588
- Mean USMLE Step 1 score: 226
- Mean USMLE Step 2 CK score: 239
- Mean number of research experiences: 1.7
- Mean number of abstracts, presentations, and publications: 2.2
- Mean number of work experiences: 2.9
- Mean number of volunteer experiences: 6.3
- Percentage who have a Ph.D. degree: 0.6
- Percentage who have another graduate degree: 18.7
Internal medicine is one of the less competitive specialties for osteopathic medicine students. However, this is because there are huge number of internal medicine programs in the country and the competitiveness for each program varies. It is important to be honest about your competitiveness and to apply to programs that historically have matched osteopathic medical students. Keep in mind that osteopathic medical students can also apply to AOA-approved internal medicine residencies if they are also accredited by the ACGME. As more osteopathic programs are ACGME approved, the matching rates of osteopathic students could shift.
Internal Medicine Residency Match Data for United States International Medical Students/Graduates (IMG)
Cumulatively, 10,032 applicants applied for 7,916 internal medicine residency positions in 2018. There were 1,876 U.S. IMGs who applied for internal medicine. A total of 1,028 matched. Therefore, 55% of U.S. IMG internal medicine applicants matched.
Below is the data for those US IMG applicants who matched successfully:
- Mean number of contiguous ranks: 7.3
- Mean number of distinct specialties ranked: 1.5
- Mean USMLE Step 1 score: 222
- Mean USMLE Step 2 score: 232
- Mean number of research experiences: 1.7
- Mean number of abstracts, presentations, and publications: 4.0
- Mean number of work experiences: 5.0
- Mean number of volunteer experiences: 5.0
- Percentage who have a Ph.D. degree: 0.7
- Percentage who have another graduate degree: 20.9
Because approximately half of all U.S. IMG applicants to internal medicine match successfully, we suggest applying as broadly as possible and being honest about how competitive you are. When reviewing Doximity residency rankings on Doximity Residency Navigator, pay attention to “feeder” schools for each program.
Internal Medicine Residency Match Data for Non-US International Medical Students/Graduates (IMG)
IMG Internal Medicine Match
Cumulatively, 10,032 applicants applied for 7,916 internal medicine residency positions in 2018. A total of 3,635 non-US IMGs applied and 2,042 matched. Therefore, a total of 56% of non-US IMG internal medicine applicants matched in internal medicine.
Below is the data for those non-US IMG applicants who matched successfully:
- Mean number of contiguous ranks: 6.4
- Mean number of distinct specialties ranked: 1.3
- Mean USMLE Step 1 score: 234
- Mean USMLE Step 2 score: 240
- Mean number of research experiences: 2.3
- Mean number of abstracts, presentations, and publications: 5.9
- Mean number of work experiences: 5.4
- Mean number of volunteer experiences: 3.6
- Percentage who have a Ph.D. degree: 3.3
- Percentage who have another graduate degree: 21.1
Because approximately half of all non-U.S. IMG applicants to internal medicine match successfully, we suggest applying as broadly as possible and being honest about how competitive you are. When reviewing Doximity residency rankings on Doximity Residency Navigator, pay attention to “feeder” schools for each program.
Looking for the raw residency match data? Be sure you click below:
Internal Medicine Residency Interview: Who is invited?
Internal Medicine Residency Match 2020-2021
Based on the 2018 Program Director’s Survey published by the NRMP, there are many factors that are important in deciding whom to invite for an internal medicine residency interview. What is most interesting about internal medicine is that standardized test scores and the MSPE are considered the most important factors with regards to who receives an interview invitation. Below are the factors considered most important in selecting applicants to interview:
- Any failed attempt in USMLE/COMLEX
There is no question that a USMLE/COMLEX failure is a deal breaker for many programs. However, in our experience, this is “easier” to overcome if you are a US allopathic student. The 2018 Program Director’s Survey indicated that 66% of programs rarely consider an applicant with a Step 1 failure and 23% never consider an applicant with a Step 1 failure.
2) USMLE Step 1/COMLEX Level 1 score and Step 2 CK/COMLEX Level 2 CE Score
It is a fact of life that your performance on Step 1 or COMLEX 1 will impact the likelihood that your application is “screened in” and that you will be invited for an interview. Many programs automatically screen out applications if the Step/COMLEX 1 score falls below a certain threshold. The 2018 Program Director’s Survey indicated that 70% of internal medicine programs have a “target score” they like to see applicants earn on Step 1. The average number for that cutoff is 215. By the same token, some programs automatically grant interviews for students with scores above a certain threshold. That threshold varies but is typically 235 or higher for Step 1. Keep in mind that not all programs offer automatic interviews. If you don’t do as well on Step 1 as you would have liked, take Step 2 CK early in the fourth year and do as well as you can!
Your score on Step 2 CK/COMLEX Level 2 CE Score is also very important in internal medicine for program directors when deciding whom to interview. Therefore we suggest that most applicants take this exam early in the fourth year. 51% of programs indicate they use a target Step 2 CK score and for programs that like to see target scores, that number is 215 (on average). Similarly, Step 2 CK scores above 235 will earn automatic interviews at some programs.
Your score on Step 3 (if you have already graduated from medical school) really doesn’t influence much as 96% of programs don’t use this score.
3) Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE/Dean’s Letter)
The specialty of internal medicine pays close attention to your MSPE. This means your “class rank/quartile” is important as are the narrative evaluations listed in your MSPE.
4) Evidence of Professionalism and Ethics
You might ask how your professionalism and ethics might be assessed based on your written application. Program directors glean information about your personal characteristics and traits from your internal medicine personal statement, ERAS written application, and letters of reference. This is why it is important to compose your personal statement and ERAS work, research, and volunteer experience entries thoughtfully. It is empowering to know that the outcome of your application season is, in part, within your control at this stage of the process.
5) Grades in clerkship in internal medicine rotations, personal statement, class ranking and quartile, internal medicine letters of recommendation.
Letters of recommendation from academic internal medicine physicians who know you well are of the utmost importance and was considered one of the most important factors in deciding whom to interview. By the same token, grades in internal medicine rotations and required clerkships will influence your chances of gettin an interview. The personal statement is also valuable to those program directors surveyed.
Internal Medicine Residency: When should you apply?
Internal Medicine Residency Application
51% of programs extend internal medicine interviews in October. Therefore, it is important to send your ERAS application in early!
Now, assuming you are selected for an interview, what factors influence how (and if) you are ranked?
Here’s the list:
- Interactions with faculty during interview and visit
- Interpersonal skills
- Interactions with housestaff during interview and visit
- USMLE/COMLEX Step 1 score
- USMLE/COMLEX Step 2 score
As you can see, after the interview, it is your “interview performance,” interpersonal qualities, and how you are perceived by anyone and everyone you meet that will influence how you are ranked (and even if you are ranked) the most. This is why, no matter how strong an applicant you are, it is important to be comfortable with the interview process. It is also valuable to know yourself; are you an introvert or more of an extrovert? What types of social situations make you comfortable or uncomfortable? During residency interviews you will be meeting many new people and having numerous conversations with strangers. Be prepared!
Even after the interview, internal medicine still considers your USMLE/COMLEX scores and MSPE as key factors in deciding how you will be ranked.
Internal Medicine Residency Match: What if you don’t Match or you feel you need Personalized help?
Applicants often feel lost, confused and overwhelmed by the residency application process. This is where MedEdits can help. We have helped hundreds of applicants match successfully. Whether you need a fourth year planning strategy, help with your personal statement, interview help, or any other guidance related to the residency match, we will make sure you are positioned as well as possible to match well on 2021 match day.
Looking for an Internal Medicine Residency program?
Check out our state by state list below.
Top Internal Medicine Residency Programs 2020-2021
|Midwestern University Osteopathic Postdoctoral Training Institute (Cottonwood) Program|
|Midwestern University Osteopathic Postdoctoral Training Institute (Mesa) Program|
|Creighton University School of Medicine/Maricopa Medical Center (Phoenix) Program|
|Creighton University School of Medicine/St Joseph’s Medical Center (Phoenix) Program|
|University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix Preliminary Program|
|University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix Program|
|Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science (Arizona) Program|
|University of Arizona College of Medicine at South Campus Program|
|University of Arizona College of Medicine-Tucson Program|
|University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center Program|
|Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences Program Osteopathic Recognized!|
|University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine (Tulsa) Program|
|Universidad Central del Caribe Program|
|Ramon Betances Hospital-Mayaguez Medical Center/Ponce School of Medicine Consortium Program|
|Damas Hospital Program|
|Hospital Episcopal San Lucas/Ponce School of Medicine Program|
|San Juan City Hospital Program|
|Hospital de la Concepcion Program|
|University of Puerto Rico Program|
|VA Caribbean Healthcare System Program|
Residency Related Articles and Guidance
- Residency Match Statistics
- Residency Personal Statement: The 2020-2021 Residency Personal Statement Insider’s Guide (with examples)
- Residency Match: How It Works & How To Get Matched
- How to write a residency interview thank you letter.
- What Outfit To Wear To Your Residency Interview
- Medical Residency Timeline & Length
- Medical Residency Salary By Specialty
- How To Master MyERAS, The Medical Residency Interview, and Common Residency Interview Questions
- Master the ERAS (Electronic Residency Application Service) & ERAS Timeline
- Residency Letters Of Recommendation (with ERAS Samples)
- Residency Letter of Intent
- How to Write a Residency Letter of Intent
- Residency Love Letters
- Residency Match Success: Lessons Learned 2020 – 2021
Residency Specialty Articles
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- Internal Medicine Residency Match: Beat more than 10,000 Applications
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