Emergency Medicine Shows Rebound in 2024 Residency Match

At ACEP’s Annual Meeting in Philadelphia last October, medical student Nsikak Daniel had no plans to participate in the 2024 Match. A resident of Nigeria who attended medical school in St. Lucia, she doubted she could earn a spot in an emergency medicine (EM) residency program in the United States.

There were financial limitations. She wasn’t personally impressed with her U.S. Medical Licensing Exam test scores. And she thought there would be steep competition from U.S.-based students. But, a sponsor she found at the ACEP Annual Meeting encouraged her to continue her dream of practicing emergency medicine.

“In November, I bought my ERAS token, prepared my entire application in less than two weeks, including my personal statement and letters of recommendation, and submitted to 47 programs,” she said. “The next few weeks, I received eight interview offers and now, so help me God, I matched into EM! It has been a rollercoaster ride but personally, I think it makes this latest achievement all the more worth it.”

Ms. Daniel is just one of 2,891 applicants who matched into emergency medicine in the 2024 Match program this spring.

After a surprisingly low number of applicants and a shockingly high unfilled rate last year, emergency medicine appears to be returning to its normal status as one of the medical profession’s most sought-after specialties. 

This year, 135 emergency medicine positions were unfilled across 54 programs—considerably down from the 554 unfilled positions across 132 programs last year. This decrease—from 18 percent to just 4.5 percent—in unfilled positions is encouraging news for the specialty.

 


For years, emergency medicine enjoyed tremendous success in the Match with nearly every spot filled. In 2021, when emergency physicians were hailed as health care heroes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, EM applicants reached a peak of more than 4,300. But in 2022, the number of EM bound students sharply dropped. With more than 700 fewer applicants, the 2022 Match saw 219 unfilled spots across 69 programs. The 2023 cycle continued the downward trend with a continued but smaller drop in EM bound applicants, and an even larger rise in unfilled spots, which shocked the EM community; some even questioned its future.

The 2024 cycle marked the greatest number of students applying to emergency medicine according to preliminary data from ERAS. More than 4,400 applicants signed up for emergency medicine this year—nearly 1,200 more EM applicants than the previous year and with nearly double the amount of international medical graduate (IMG) applicants. While emergency medicine’s Match rates have not returned to pre-COVID numbers, it certainly is a sign of renewed interest in the field.

 “We are very encouraged that the interest in EM has seen a rebound over the last year, “ said Chinmay Patel, DO, who is the Emergency Medicine Clerkship Director at the Burnett School of Medicine at Texas Christian University. “The increase in EM interest mirrors what anecdotally many residency programs around the country experienced this interview season with increased applications.”   

 

The increase in number of applicants and subsequent Match has been mostly driven by an increase in osteopathic and IMG applicants. The results of the 2024 Match showed that 35 percent of EM positions were filled by osteopathic students.  Many students, like Ms. Daniel, who felt like they would never have a chance at matching in EM were excited at the opportunity to be given a chance.

While this is the highest number of emergency medicine applicants, there remains concern about the continued expansion of emergency medicine residency programs. A follow-up piece is in development that takes a deeper look at the numbers we are seeing this week.