Analysis of 10 Years of Diagnostic Radiology Match Data: Notable Changes and Their Potential Implications

Acad Radiol. 2021 Mar 5;S1076-6332(21)00068-4. doi: 10.1016/j.acra.2021.01.034. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Rationale and objectives: Identification of shifts in match metrics, such as applicant volumes, match rates, and interview patterns, stands to inform and empower both applicants and programs participating in the NRMP residency match. Residency programs rarely publish their internal data. Accordingly, we employed publicly available resources to evaluate changes in such metrics for the diagnostic radiology match from 2008 to 2018.

Materials and methods: Reports made available to the public by the NRMP, alongside student discussion on the AuntMinnie.com and StudentDoctor.net forums, were used to determine applicant volumes, interview volumes, program rank-order-list metrics, match rates, and interview invite patterns. Linear regression and correlation analyses were employed to identify statistically significant trends.

Results: No statistically significant trends were identified across the selected timeframe for applicant volumes or match rates. Statistically significant upward trends were identified for total interview volumes, average interviews attended per applicant, and the fraction of programs inviting students to interview before October 1st, the MSPE release date (p < 0.05). A very strong and significant positive correlation was identified between average interviews attended per applicant and the average number of ranks needed by programs to fill a position (p < 0.01, R = 0.804).

Conclusion: Applicants pursuing a diagnostic radiology residency are attending more interviews, and programs are increasingly inviting students to interview based on incomplete applications. However, there has been no corresponding uptrend in match rates. Moreover, increased applicant interview attendance is highly associated with programs falling further down their rank lists. Given the expenses usually associated with the match process and forthcoming changes to USMLE scoring, these trends may be unsustainable.

Keywords: Diagnostic radiology match; NRMP; Radiology interview trends; Radiology match trends; Residency match.