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Worse, the number of PGY1 positions being offered are increasing even though the number of U.S. seniors applying to anesthesiology has not, staying roughly in the mid 700's. This year, there were 1,127 PGY1 spots offered. Back in 2012, there were only 919, a 22.6% increase. Consequently the percentage of positions being filled by U.S. seniors has dropped to only 68.7%. This compares to a fill rate by U.S. educated seniors of 78.9% in 2012.
How bad is 68%? That's a number that feels more at home with the primary care fields which offer thousands more residency jobs than anesthesiology. Pediatrics has 2,689 positions and 68% filled by U.S. seniors. Internal Medicine has 7,024 jobs and 46.9% acceptances. Family Medicine has 3,238 and 45.3%. Meanwhile more desirable fields like Emergency Medicine managed to fill 78.4% of their spots with U.S. seniors. Orthopedic Surgery, 90.7%. Even General Surgery (categorical), supposedly a field nobody wants to enter because of the terrible lifestyle, filled 76.4% of their positions.
What about the other ROAD specialties? As usual, Dermatology was able to offer 100% of their jobs to U.S. seniors. Ophthalmology, though not in the official NRMP match, usually matches around 90%. Unfortunately for Radiology, it is also suffering the same kind of loss of prestige, with 61.6% of its PGY1 jobs going to U.S. students.
Is there any hope for anesthesiology? First we have to stop increasing the number of residency positions offered. We want the best and brightest medical students to go into the field, not try to fill residency positions out of a sense of desperation. Besides, many people already feel the anesthesia market is saturated and all the graduates have to do an extra year of fellowship just to find a job. Next, the ASA needs to find a future direction for the field besides the Perioperative Surgical Home. Yes the leadership feels that is the most compelling vision for the specialty. But frankly I didn't sign up for this gig to become an internist and compete with the hospitalists for a job. Finally, we need to make anesthesiology exciting again. This field has made some of the greatest contributions to the advancement of medicine. Why does anesthesiology feel like it's stuck in a rut? Why aren't there any smart companies developing exciting new technology to improve patient safety and monitoring? Why is the most talked about anesthesia tech in the past five years related to how to remove anesthesiologists from the procedure room? Why does the anesthesiology match every year feel more and more like a sinking ship and nobody wants to be stuck as the last one out?