Want to know the most competitive residencies and the least competitive residencies? How is competitiveness among medical specialties determined? How to choose a medical specialty based on this? Residency competitiveness is not related to specialty difficulty; it is simply based on numbers. Specialty competitiveness is measured by the percentage of positions filled by senior students in medical schools. The higher the fill rate, the more competitive the residency. In this blog, we’ll explore the most and least competitive residencies, including tips on how to match to your top program! 

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Article Contents
15 min read

How to Determine What Are the Most Competitive and Least Competitive Residencies? Least Competitive Residency Programs Based on Fill-Rate in the US Most Competitive Residency Programs Based on Fill-Rate in the US Least Competitive Residency Programs Based on Fill-Rate in Canada Most Competitive Residency Programs Based on Fill-Rate in Canada How to Improve Your Match Chances Conclusion FAQs

How to Determine What Are the Most Competitive and Least Competitive Residencies?

What are the most competitive and least competitive residencies? NRMP considers the most competitive residencies to be those with the highest fill rates. In other words, the programs which fill the majority of their open positions in the match. In our list, we will provide you with a list of programs that fill all of their available positions – meaning that the competition for each spot is fierce.

The least competitive programs are determined by looking at programs that had over 30 available positions but did not fill all of them. This means that there was little competition per spot available.


Make sure to use our Residency Match Calculator to determine your match chances!


Are there Easy Residency Programs to Match?

While we will provide you with lists of the least and most competitive residencies to match in the US and Canada, you should be aware that there are no easy residencies, really. Every specialty will require enormous amounts of work, and you should be prepared to give it your all. The residency application and interview processes are extremely difficult. Many of our students really struggle with application components like residency personal statement, residency CV, letters of recommendation, and so on. The residency application is a totally different experience than applications and interview for medical school. In many ways, there is a lot more pressure and fewer spots for residents. The interview process can be even more daunting than the medical school interview, since residency interviews are the most influential factor when it comes to programs’ directors ranking of candidates.

And making things even more difficult is the fact that you’re still in medical school! So, you not only have to put in the time and effort to prepare your application but you have to remember to excel in your remaining rotations, which can be difficult.

“Balancing interviews with rotations!” is what was most trying about the entire residency application process for Dr. Monica Taneja, who did her psychiatry residency at an affiliate of Harvard Medical School. Dr. Taneja says:

“It was well accepted that 4th-years would take time off for interviews ... [but] many times interviews would come with little notice or time to schedule.” --Dr. Monica Taneja, MD

The short notice you’re given about interviews is something echoed by Erin, who also said:

“I had short notice when I was given an interview date ... [So] I had a hard time figuring out personal examples to use in certain interview questions.” --Erin, BeMo residency applicant

However, not everyone has this problem. Our student Natasha, learning from her medical school interview experience, was prepared for the challenges that lay ahead. Natasha remembered that:

“[I] always struggled with interviews and didn't do as well as I'd hoped in them when first applying for medical school ... [I] wanted to be as prepared as possible [for residency interviews]." -- Natasha, BeMo residency applicant

Natasha’s medical school was a medical school that uses MMI, so her preparation for residency interviews, which were panel interview had to be different, but required just as much preparation.

Keep this in mind as you read out most up-to-date list of least and most competitive residency programs – none of these are easy. Now, on to the lists!

Least Competitive Residency Programs Based on Fill-Rate in the US

In the most recent Match, these specialties had more than 30 positions available and fill-rates by senior MD students of less than 45% percent. The fill-rates for DO students is also shown:

Emergency Medicine (MD: 42.3%, DO: 24.3%)

Behind the numbers: Out of 2,765 total applicants, 42.3% of the 3,010 positions offered in this specialty were filled by MD students in the United States and 24.3% were filled by DO students.

Family Medicine (MD: 29.2%, DO: 29.7%)

Behind the numbers: Out of 6,927 total applicants, 29.2% of the 5,088 positions offered in this specialty were filled by United States MD students and 29.7% were filled by DO students.

Internal Medicine (MD: 36.9%, DO: 17.4%)

Behind the numbers: Out of 14,231 total applicants, 36.9% of the 9,725 positions offered in Internal Medicine were filled by MD students in the United States and 17.4% were filled by DO students.

Pathology (MD: 39.5%, DO: 14.2%)

Behind the numbers: Out of 1,023 total applicants, 39.5% of the 613 positions offered in this specialty were filled by MD students in the United States and 14.2% were filled by DO students.

Surgery-Preliminary (PGY-1 Only) (MD: 21.7%, DO: 4.1%)

Behind the numbers: Out of 2,032 total applicants, MD students in the United States secured 21.7% of the 1,133 positions offered in Surgery-Preliminary and 4.1% were filled by DO students. 

Check out this video for more info on most and least competitive residencies:

Most Competitive Residency Programs Based on Fill-Rate in the US

In the most recent Match, these specialties had more than 30 positions available and every open position was filled at the conclusion of all rounds of matching. Meaning that these specialties had a total fill-rate (MD seniors, DO seniors, as well as other applicants) of 100 percent by the end of Match Week:

Orthopedic Surgery

Behind the numbers: Out of 1,425 total applicants, 76.8% of the 899 positions offered in this specialty were filled by MD students in the United States and 13.2% were filled by DO students. The rest of the positions were filled by MD and DO grads, as well as US and non-US IMGs. (MD Grad: 7.6%, DO Grad: 0.8%, IMG: 1.3%, Other: 0.2%)

Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

Behind the numbers: There were 745 total applicants, 355 of which were senior MD students in the United States and 266 of which were senior DO students, applying for the 206 positions offered in this specialty. All of the positions were filled, 118 of them by MD seniors, 74 by DO students, 3 by MD grads, 1 by DO grad, and 10 by US and non-US IMGs.

Interventional Radiology (Integrated)

Behind the numbers: There were 266 total applicants, 173 of which were senior MD students in the United States and 38 of which were senior DO students, applying for the 51 positions offered in Dermatology. All of the positions were filled, 37 of them by MD seniors, 4 by DO seniors, and 10 by US and non-US IMGs.

Plastic Surgery (Integrated)

Behind the numbers: There were 332 total applicants, 255 of which were senior MD students in the United States and 5 of which were senior DO students, applying for the 207 positions offered in Plastic Surgery. All of the positions were filled, 191 of them by MD seniors, 0 by DO seniors, 7 by MD grad, 1 by DO grad, and 8 by US and non-US IMGs.


Behind the numbers: There were 1,235 total applicants, 765 of which were United States senior MD students and 199 of which were senior DO students, applying for the 143 positions offered in this specialty. All of the positions were filled, 90 of them by MD seniors, 4 by MD Grads, 28 by DO seniors, and 21 by US and non-US IMGs.

Thoracic Surgery

Behind the numbers: There were 138 total applicants, 95 of which were United States senior MD students and 6 of which were senior DO students, applying for the 49 positions offered in Thoracic Surgery. All of the positions were filled, 41 of them by MD seniors, 2 by MD Grads, 1 by a DO senior, and 5 by non-US IMGs.

Here's some tips on matching to a family medicine residency:

Specialties with High MD Match Rates

These specialties had more than 30 positions available and fill-rates by senior MD students greater than 80 percent. The fill-rates for DO students are also provided:

Neurological Surgery (MD: 86.8%, DO: 1.2%)

Behind the numbers: Out of 373 total applicants, MD students in the United States secured 86.8% of the 243 positions offered in this specialty and 1.2% were filled by DO students. 2.6% were obtained by MD Grads, 0.2% by DO Grads, and 4% by US and non-US IMGs.

Otolaryngology (MD: 83.1%, DO: 6.2%)

Behind the numbers: Out of 493 total applicants, 83.1% of the 373 positions offered in Otolaryngology were filled by graduating United States MD students and 6.2% were filled by DO students. 6% were taken by MD Grads, 0.2% by DO Grads, and 1.4% by US and non-US IMGs.

Vascular Surgery (MD: 80.6%, DO: 4.3%)

Behind the numbers: Out of 159 total applicants, MD students in the United States obtained 80.6% of the 93 positions offered in Vascular Surgery and 4.3% were filled by DO students. 1.8% were obtained by MD Grads, 0.6% by DO Grads, and 5.6% by US and non-US IMGs. 

Want to match to an internal medicine residency? Here's some tips:

Least Competitive Residency Programs Based on Fill-Rate in Canada

CaRMS data indicates that Family Medicine is by far the least competitive residency specialty in Canada. After the first iteration there were 268 positions left unfilled, while after the second iteration 100 positions were left unfilled. But do not be misled by the numbers - the Match in Canada is extremely competitive. Canadian graduates have a Match rate of 93.5%, while US IMGs have a match rates of 86.7% in Canada, and non-US IMGs have a rate of 72.3%.

Internal medicine and Psychiatry are also relatively non-competitive, with 21 and 23 unfilled spots respectively.

Most Competitive Residency Programs Based on Fill-Rate in Canada

Unfortunately, CaRMS does not provide detailed reports on the number of applicants to each specialty. However, the list below includes specialties that had over 30 available positions and were all filled, both in first and second iteration:

  1. Diagnostic Radiology
  2. Emergency Medicine
  3. Obstetrics and Gynecology
  4. Ophthalmology
  5. Orthopedic Surgery
  6. Urology

How to Improve Your Match Chances

What candidate attributes do residency programs consider when ranking applicants? Consider the following tips:

Genuine Interest in the Specialty

Show interest in the specialty! Successful applicants for competitive residencies demonstrate their interest in pursuing a residency in that specialty by the middle of their 3rd year of medical school. This is what Dr. Neel Mistry, MD who trained at the University of Saskatchewan’s Diagnostic Radiology program, one of the most competitive specialties in both the US and Canada, had to say about proving your dedication to a specialization via LORs:

“Demonstrating preparedness for your specialty is key to convincing the application committee and ultimately securing your top residency program. To do so, you want to highlight specific personal experiences where you have demonstrated key skills required for your specialty. For instance, collaboration, communication, and independent problem solving are essential to the job of a radiologist. I made sure to give specific (and ideally different) examples to demonstrate how I have developed each of these skills throughout medical school. This helps the selection committee to know that you are aware of what you are getting yourself into." Dr. Neel Mistry, MD, University of Saskatchewan, Diagnostic Radiology

Typically for competitive residency programs, having great scores and grades alone will not distinguish you from the other applicants. Key attributes for successful applicants include: outstanding research in the specialty, supportive letters of recommendation from faculty who are known in their field (who can showcase your fit for the specialty), and extracurricular commitments that show dedication to that particular specialty (conferences, international trips, leadership, etc.)

CV and Extracurriculars

Actually, extracurricular activities and leadership roles demonstrated in your residency CV is a great way to demonstrate your interest in a specialty “outside of official hours”. In other words, outside of required medical school rotations and clerkships. Dr. Neel Mistry, MD, shares experience:

“[To stand out as a residency applicant, I participated in] quite a few [non-medical] activities; it is important to show that you have a life outside of medicine! I took part in a cricket tournament, amateur cooking sessions, and a drop-in karaoke competition.” – Dr. Neel Mistry, MD, University of Saskatchewan, Diagnostic Radiology

So, get involved in non-profit organizations, community service, or global health initiatives. Seek leadership roles when possible. But do not be afraid of engaging in non-medical activities as well – program directors look for well-rounded applicants. Your music, sports, arts, dance, cooking, make-up, or other interests can also contribute to your image as a great candidate! Follow your passion and it is sure to help you match, just like her passion helped Dr. Monica Taneja stand out from the crown when she applies to her chosen residencies:

“I really enjoy working with students, so I did a lot of volunteer medical school mock interviewing for my graduate and undergraduate schools. I also continued to participate in my hobbies including photography, which came up a lot during interviews!” - Dr. Monica Taneja, MD, Harvard South Shore, Psychiatry


These scores, especially USMLE Step 1 and USMLE Step 2 CK, are often used as screening tools by residency programs. Higher scores can enhance your application and increase your chances of getting a residency interview. According to NRMP data, Step 1 scores have the highest influence on program directors when it comes to whom they invite to interview. While scores are not everything, aim to get the passing score or higher. These scores can really help you get that coveted interview invite.

Get Stellar Letters of Recommendation (LORs) from Experts in Your Specialization

Strong ERAS letters of recommendation or CaRMS reference letters from respected physicians in your specialty can significantly bolster your application. As you might know, you need to show strong passion for your specialization via your personal statement and CV, but nothing will convince the program directors more of your commitment to surgery, family medicine, or pediatrics, etc., than an objective review of your suitability. Build relationships during clinical rotations, showcase dedication and enthusiasm, and ask for LORs from those who've observed your clinical performance closely. Your LORs are the second most influential application component that affects programs’ interview choices. 

Ace Your Clinical Rotations

Outstanding performance during clinical rotations, especially in the specialty of interest, is crucial. Engage actively in rotations, seek feedback regularly, and continuously work on areas of improvement. Residencies place high value on clinical performance as it is a much better reflector of dedication, knowledge, communication and work ethic than a score on a test. Honors grades are difficult to earn, but they will greatly increase your chances of matching at more desirable programs in competitive specialties.

Research Experience

Research showcases a candidate's dedication, analytical skills, and potential contributions to the field. Dr. Monica Taneja, MD and our admissions expert who trained at the Harvard South Shore Psychiatry program, shares how research helped her demonstrate her commitment to her chosen specialty:

“I showed preparedness and interest in psychiatry by engaging in research and taking advantage of unique psychiatry rotations offered at my medical school. These both gave me plenty of stories to talk about how I validated the field and showcase how I see my career progressing in psychiatry.” – Dr. Monica Taneja, MD, Harvard South Shore, Psychiatry

It is especially important to gain quality research experience if your chosen residency program is research-focused. However, even if your program of choice is not research-focused, your experience with research will make you stand out. Seek out research opportunities early, collaborate with mentors, and aim for publications or presentations.

Personal Statement

When deciding between applicants that are all potential matches, a program will consider your residency personal statement and other essays, such as the residency letter of intent. It provides insight into your motivation, aspirations, and personality. It is one of the top 5 factors that affect programs’ interview lists. Our admissions expert Dr. Neel Mistry, MD, shares his experience with preparing his personal statement for the Diagnostic Radiology specialty that he pursued:

“Writing the personal statement was particularly hard because there is so much you can talk about, and what may appeal to you may not necessarily appeal to the admissions committee. Making the statement convincing while meeting the word limit (if applicable) and addressing the question at hand was extremely difficult. I would advise to start as early as possible (possibly months from due date) so that you can extensively revise the statement, have others review it and provide feedback.” - Dr. Neel Mistry, MD, University of Saskatchewan, Diagnostic Radiology

Write genuinely, get feedback from peers/mentors, and tailor the statement for the specific specialty. Remember, they want to see your interest in the specialty – use your personal statement to demonstrate your dedication.


MSPE or MSPR is actually the 3rd most important factor that affects the directors’ choice of interviewees. This evaluation offers a comprehensive review of your performance during medical school. Here’s the key: consistent performance throughout medical school years. Yes, consistency is really important.

Comments from your attending physicians and preceptors on your Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE) can often really help or damage your chances with a program.  The MSPE is a collection of all comments that are given by individual evaluators who have worked with you during your 3rd year clerkships in core rotations such as pediatrics, family medicine, surgery, internal medicine, psychiatry, and OB/GYN. You should aim to get positive comments on each rotation, including in the specialties that you are not applying to, to make your MSPE as strong as possible.

Interview Performance

Your residency interview is the bottom line. It’s pretty much the only thing that will affect how you are ranked by the program. We are not exaggerating. Your interactions with faculty during the interview and visit, interpersonal skills, interactions with house staff during the interview and visit, as well as feedback from current residents are the 4 most important factors that affect directors’ rankings. So., your interview is pretty much the only thing that matters. This means you should put a lot of effort into preparing, and go beyond just reading common residency interview questions. Sometimes understanding residency interview questions can be challenging. Lavpreet, who matched to a family medicine residency at a medical school in British Columbia, said that he needed to learn “how [to] can give responses to personal situational quirky type questions.” These types of questions are meant to elicit an authentic response and test your communication skills.

Dr. Monica Taneja, an American MD and graduate of the University of Maryland School of Medicine say the best way to answer a personal, situational or any question you’re not prepared for is to:

“Ask the interviewer for a moment to think about the question ... 20 seconds to think about the question before diving into an answer really helped me with tough questions.” -- Dr. Monica Taneja, MD

Even though the silence may seem awkward, you want to avoid giving a rambling answer. But you can also choose another route. Dr. Jaime Cazes, a graduate of the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine, says, “I don’t see why this question can’t be answered with some levity.” If you’re asked a personal, quirky question, such as, “if you were a utensil, what utensil would you be?” you should give a personal, quirky answer. But only if you feel confident enough and relaxed during the interview will you be able to respond with humor. And how do you gain confidence and overcome your nerves? 

Our best advice is to use residency mock interviews to prepare to go over sample residency interview questions. Erin, who recently matched into a general surgery residency program, says:

“[I] had a hard time figuring out personal examples to use in certain interview questions ... [I had] to break down my experience to be used as examples and how I could use them to outline what I had learned overall.” -- Erin, BeMo residency applicant.

But it was mock interviews with professional admissions experts that helped. In all, Erin says that after her mock interviews she “felt more confident and prepared during the actual interview,” which is the point of mock interviews. These interviews simulate the real-life interview setting and you can really get a feeling of what it’s like to speak with program directors and staff. And it’s important to be able to build up that rapport with your supervisors and faculty early on. As Lavpreet found, after his mock interviews:

“I improved my communication skills as a whole that will stick with me throughout my career.” -- Lavpreet, BeMo residency applicant

Graduation Year

As you can see from NRMP data, some programs have a preference for recent graduates. MD and DO Seniors tend to have higher match rates that MD and DO graduates. If you take gap years after medical school graduation, it's essential to use that time productively, like engaging in research, further training, or relevant work.

Geographical Preferences

This might be surprising to some, but your geographical connections to where the programs are located can have a great positive affect on your ranking. Being open to diverse locations can improve chances, but this also means that you should research the locations of the programs to see how you can truly connect to that area. For example, even if you have never been to a state or city, but your partner comes from that area, you can express this during the interview and explain that you are very happy to see yourself in this area long-term. This is just an example, but you see how you can build connections if you genuinely want to stay in the area.


In helping thousands of students each year match to their top-choice residency programs, students often ask what the most competitive or least competitive programs are. The lists within this blog are based purely on numbers: the higher the fill rate, or percentage of positions filled by senior students in medical schools, the more competitive the residency. Competitiveness is only one factor to consider when applying to residency programs; be sure to take into account your passion for the specialty, how long is your residency program, potential for burnout, and the type of work-life balance you see for yourself in the future. That being said, matching at any residency program is a long and challenging process and we will be here to support you every step of the way!

Lastly, in addition to the information within this blog, be sure to do your own research to ensure you are applying to residency programs that are a good fit for you and that will ultimately allow you to have a successful and fulfilling career.


1. What are the most competitive residencies?

The data changes every year, but most competitive residencies tend to be specialties with the most training. For example, plastic surgery, thoracic surgery, and radiology.

2. What are the least competitive residencies?

Primary care specialties tend to be less competitive. For example, family medicine, internal medicine, and pathology.

3. How does the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) classify programs for the Main Residency Match?

The NRMP classifies residency programs in five types:

Categorical (C) – programs that begin in post-graduate year one (PGY-1) and provide full training required for specialty board certification

Primary (M) – categorical programs in primary care medicine and primary care pediatrics that begin in PGY-1 and provide full training required for specialty board certification

Preliminary (P) – one-year programs that begin in PGY-1 and provide prerequisite training for more advanced programs

Advanced (A) – programs that begin in post-graduate year two (PGY-2) after a year of prerequisite training in a preliminary program

Physician (R) – programs reserved for physicians with prior graduate medical education, reserved programs offer PGY-2 positions that begin during Match year and are therefore not available to senior medical students

4. Which residency specialty is the right specialty for me?

Many students will use their clinical rotations in medical school to find a specialty they are interested in by process of elimination, but what if you are interested in a specialty that is not typically represented in required medical school clinical rotations?

Our biggest tip: explore medical specialties early! Remember, for competitive residencies it will be important to demonstrate early interest in pursuing a certain specialty. You will want to demonstrate this early on, so be sure to use your time efficiently. Some medical schools provide elective time to explore additional specialties during the 3rd year, and early in your 4th year, while others do not. Take advantage of the summer to test the waters in other specialties. In the end, be true to yourself, and to your interests, when choosing a specialty and choose a specialty that will allow you to be successful and content.

5. What is an away rotation and how does it affect my chances of matching with a competitive program?

Away rotations can give you experience in a new city and with new faculty and patient populations, but they can also strengthen your residency applications, especially if you are trying to match to a competitive specialty or a specific residency program. Beyond providing exposure to a new setting, an away rotation is essentially a month-long interview.

During this opportunity, you will be evaluated by potential future colleagues on a daily basis and this can open doors for you if you make a good impression. Away rotations can be key in securing an interview down the road: it makes a big difference to the selection committee if they have actually met you and have observed how you interact with patients and people in their program. To show interest in a specific specialty, be sure to complete your away rotation within the first few months (July-September) of your 4th year of medical school so they can be included in your application.

Away applications are done through VSAS and typically start in the spring of 3rd year of medical school. You'll have the chance to rotate at a particular program to see if it fits you well, demonstrate other qualities/work ethics that may not necessarily be reflected in your grades/scores, and obtain letters of recommendation from faculty at these institutions.

Begin looking in your 3rd year of medical school to understand which programs allow away students and when then research how much lead time you will need to apply and secure a spot. In some cases, you may need to do this six months in advance of the elective. Some schools have windows in which they allow away students and limited spots, so be sure to start early if you wish to secure a spot.

6. Is it more competitive to match as a couple?

Your chance of matching is not hindered by choosing to match as a couple. In recent years, more couples have participated in The Match than ever before. Couples continue to see great success and high match rates. When applying for the Couples Match, each individual must register with NRMP separately, then request to match as a couple and notify ERAS as well. You will apply and interview separately, but when creating your rank order list (ROL), you will create pairs from that list. Be honest with your priorities when making your list with your partner. After your ROLs are linked, NRMP only matches couples to preferred pairs of programs if each partner has been offered a position. Look for programs that present themselves as couples friendly and focus on applying to programs in larger cities, with multiple programs, to maximize your chances of completing a residency close to your partner.

7. What is the “ROAD to success” in reference to competitive residency specialties?

ROAD stands for Radiology, Ophthalmology, Anesthesiology, and Dermatology. These specialties rank highly with respect to lifestyle: they come with a great salary, while often being less demanding than many other fields. ROAD specialties were designated because of their generally acceptable work-life balance after training. The intensity of the residency programs can vary within each of these specialties, but for the most part, upon graduation and entry into practice, each of these specialties has more manageable schedules than other specialties with similar reimbursements.

Radiology is typically broken up into shifts, with the ability to work from home if working for a reading center. Ophthalmology and Dermatology have relatively few emergencies and generally work a typical 9-5 workday with some elective surgeries. Anesthesia is known for having a difficult residency, but upon graduation, many can proceed to fellowships in interventional pain management, or recruit the assistance of C-RNAs in the OR, which makes life more manageable. All of this makes ROAD specialties some of the most desirable and competitive fields in medicine.

Keep in mind that less demanding does not mean that these specialties are not challenging. It can mean, however, that you have fewer on-call, overnight, weekend, or holiday shifts and a more set schedule with regular hours of work. Lifestyle is only one consideration when deciding which specialty to enter, as most physicians are happiest in a field where they love the work and are able to achieve a work-life balance.

8. What if I am an International Medical Graduate (IMG) applying for residency in the United States or Canada?

Check out our blog for International Medical Graduates, which outlines the eligibility criteria for IMGs in Canada and the United States, how to prepare your residency application, tips for writing your personal statement, and recommendations for how to prepare for a coveted residency interview.

9. So, is a more competitive residency more prestigious?

A more competitive residency is not more prestigious. All physicians are highly trained and respected professionals. Competitive residencies have fewer spots available, mostly because fewer specialists in those areas are required to meet the population’s needs. This is why more primary-care spots are available (as these are required at least occasionally by almost everyone) and there are fewer spots in specialties like surgery or dermatology (not everyone sees a dermatologist in their lives).

Keep in mind that competitiveness and prestige do not necessarily equate with a good fit. It is important to pursue the specialty that most interests you and is what you will be most happy doing, rather than perceived prestige, as most people outside of medicine will not really understand the differences. The competitive residencies generally have fewer spots and require stronger connections to “match” into. Even a community dermatology program will be highly desired, and there may be many applicants trying for one position, while another specialty may have open spots even long after the match.

10. What can I do as a DO student to match to a competitive specialty?

It looks like fewer DO students match to competitive specialties, but do not get discouraged if you are a DO vs MD student! What matters is what you accomplished during medical school, not which medical school you attended or whether it is an MD or DO school. So, ensure you do well on your USMLE (especially the Step 2 CK) and excel on your clinical rotations. Receive mentorship from physicians in your desired field, seek away rotations, and ensure you have great experiences like research, volunteering, and leadership to highlight on your personal statement and CV. These steps will show your initiative and interest and you will be well on your way to matching to whichever specialty you wish!

11. Do I need to know what field I want to go into before starting medical school?

Absolutely not! In fact, unless you have already had a lot of clinical experience, you can count on changing your mind about which specialty to pursue. Typically, most students do not shadow during the first or second year of medical school, as preclinical coursework can be very heavy.

However, if you're interested in competitive programs, it's a good idea to look for research during this time so you can have your work published by the time you apply to a residency program. Core rotations in your 3rd year of medical school will also help in deciding which specialty you wish to pursue. It is normal to have narrowed this down to two or three areas by your 3rd year and to keep refining your thoughts during your 3rd year. By the time you get to 4th year, you will know for sure which specialty is your passion.

12. Can I apply to more than one specialty?

Yes, you can apply to multiple specialties. On average, students apply to 1.2-1.6 specialties, so at least some students are applying to more than one specialty. What you must ensure, though, is that your application is equally strong for each specialty. Do not treat a “less competitive” specialty as a backup and think that you will match because more spots are available. For example, some students think that they will just apply to internal medicine because there are more spots, but their genuine desire is to be a dermatologist. If you apply to a specialty for which your application is not strong, it does not matter if there are more spots available; you will not receive an interview and you will not get in. You must show that you have experiences, mentors, and genuine interest in the specialty if you are applying.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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john Ezeli

i presently live in puerto rico, as my wife is from there..do i have a chance to match in a hospital here with basic spanish


BeMo Academic Consulting

Hello John! Thanks for your question. May I clarify if you are trying to match in Puerto Rico?



Where is anesthesiology on this list?


BeMo Academic Consulting

Hi Kay, thanks for your question. Based on most recent research, anesthesiology is not one of the most competitive or least competitive residencies in the US and Canada, and therefore is not on the list here. Please see most recent data by NRMP and CaRMS to see your match chances.