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DO Match Rate by Specialty (2022 Match)

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by Alec Palmerton, MD in Residency

Are you a DO who is looking to match for residency? Want to know the DO match rate by specialty to help you find the right specialty fit? Are you worried that as a DO you’ll be at a disadvantage relative to your MD colleagues? Curious about what specialties are actually the most – and least – DO-friendly?

In this article, you’ll learn the DO match rate by specialty, as well as which specialties have the highest DO representation.

Summary:

  • DO match rates by specialty vary hugely
  • The specialties with the highest DO match rate include Pediatrics, Family Medicine, Emergency Medicine, and Internal Medicine
  • The specialties with the lowest DO match rate include Radiation Oncology, Plastic Surgery, and Vascular Surgery
  • Based on % of spots filled by DOs
    • The most DO-friendly specialties in 2022 include Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Family Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Pediatrics, and Psychiatry
    • The least DO-friendly specialties include Plastic Surgery, Radiation Oncology, Vascular Surgery, and Otolaryngology

Table of Contents

What’s the Difference Between a DO and an MD?

Let’s start with some definitions.

DO: Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Licensed physicians trained in “whole body” wellness and treatment techniques in muscle and joint manipulation in addition to mainstream treatments.
Allopathy Vs. Osteopathy

In the US, there are two main branches of registered physician:

  • Allopathy: In this path, doctors train in modern, sometimes referred to as “Western”, medicine to treat symptoms and diseases. Doctors who train in this branch are licensed as Doctors of Medicine (MD)
  • Osteopathy: These doctors have the same education and licensing exams as MDs but have additional training in muscle and joint manipulation. Doctors who train in Osteopathy are licensed as Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) and have the same residency training and choices as MDs.
COMLEX vs. USMLE

To begin practicing medicine, DOs and MDs must take specific licensing exams:

  • COMLEX-USA: This test assesses osteopathic medical knowledge in addition to allopathic medical knowledge in order to become licensed as a DO in the USA.
  • USMLE: This test assesses allopathic medical knowledge and is required to become licensed as an MD.
NRMP: “National Resident Matching Program®”
  • The organization that administers the “Match.” In the match, the NRMP pairs residency applicants with a residency program.

Note that prior to the 2020 Match, DOs had access to a “pool” of residencies reserved for which only they could match. The current system has merged DO and MD residencies so that every applicant has the same “chance” for matching in their chosen specialty.

For more on how to maximize your match chances and how the “Merge” has changed residency applications, see THE MATCH: Everything You Need to Maximize Your Residency Chances

The Most Competitive Specialties for DOs (2022)

Here are the DO match rates by specialty for the 2022 Match:

DO Match Rate for Each Specialty 2022

Here are the same data represented in a table:

 % DO Applied that Matched% DO Unmatched% Positions Filled by DOTotal Positions OfferedTotal # All ApplicantsDO Senior MatchedDO Senior UnmatchedDO Senior Total
**Radiation Oncology0%100%0%185162
**Plastic Surgery0%100%0%194340
Vascular Surgery8%92%1%8414311213
Neurological Surgery43%57%4%24037991221
Dermatology50%50%7%544834383876
Orthopaedic Surgery56%44%13%8751,43511186197
Interventional Radiology59%41%12%169226201434
Otolaryngology60%40%6%361556211435
General Surgery62%38%12%1,6222,400200125325
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation64%36%33%53272517699275
Obstetrics and Gynecology65%35%16%1,5032,044241130371
Anesthesiology66%34%16%1,9692,560313161474
Diagnostic Radiology67%33%15%1,1551,56816984253
Internal Medicine/Pediatrics74%26%9%392458371350
Psychiatry87%13%18%2,0472,56037857435
Child Neurology89%11%9%18818217219
Neurology92%8%15%1,0141,24915013163
Pathology93%7%12%63182775681
Internal Medicine94%6%15%9,80911,5981,503931596
Emergency Medicine95%5%25%2,9212,81373638774
Family Medicine96%4%27%4,9165,0551,345621407
Pediatrics97%3%19%3,0163,15356520585

The Most Competitive DO Specialties (>100 DO Applicants)

  • Dermatology (50% DOs unmatched)
  • Orthopaedic Surgery (44% DOs unmatched)
  • General Surgery (38% DOs unmatched)
  • Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (36% DOs unmatched)
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology (35% DOs unmatched)
  • Anesthesiology (34% DOs unmatched)
  • Diagnostic Radiology (33% DOs unmatched)

The Least Competitive DO Specialties (>100 DO Applicants)

  • Pediatrics (97% DOs matched)
  • Family Medicine (96% DOs matched)
  • Emergency Medicine (95% DOs matched)
  • Internal Medicine (94% DOs matched)
  • Neurology (92% DOs matched)
  • Psychiatry (87% DOs matched)

The Most (and Least) DO-Friendly Specialties in 2022

Looking at the % of spots filled by DOs in the 2022 Match, we can see huge variations in DO representation, with a few specialties missing out altogether.

Here are the same data represented in a table:

 % Positions Filled by DO% DO UnmatchedTotal Positions OfferedTotal # All ApplicantsDO Senior MatchedDO Senior UnmatchedDO Senior Total
Anesthesiology16%34%1,9692,560313161474
Child Neurology9%11%18818217219
Dermatology7%50%544834383876
Diagnostic Radiology15%33%1,1551,56816984253
Emergency Medicine25%5%2,9212,81373638774
Family Medicine27%4%4,9165,0551,345621407
General Surgery12%38%1,6222,400200125325
Internal Medicine15%6%9,80911,5981,503931596
Internal Medicine/Pediatrics9%26%392458371350
Interventional Radiology12%41%169226201434
Neurological Surgery4%57%24037991221
Neurology15%8%1,0141,24915013163
Obstetrics and Gynecology16%35%1,5032,044241130371
Orthopaedic Surgery13%44%8751,43511186197
Otolaryngology6%40%361556211435
Pathology12%7%63182775681
Pediatrics19%3%3,0163,15356520585
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation33%36%53272517699275
Plastic Surgery**0%100%194340
Psychiatry18%13%2,0472,56037857435
Radiation Oncology**0%100%185162
Vascular Surgery1%92%8414311213

Note that some specialties may have lower DO match rates but higher overall representation from DOs. For example, we can see below that 36% of DOs went unmatched even in the most DO-friendly specialty (Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation).

The Most DO-Friendly Specialties of the 2022 Match

The most DO-friendly specialties of the 2022 Match were:

  • Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (33% spots filled by DOs)
  • Family Medicine (27% spots filled by DOs)
  • Emergency Medicine (25% spots filled by DOs)
  • Pediatrics (19% spots filled by DOs)
  • Psychiatry (18% spots filled by DOs)
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology (16% spots filled by DOs)
  • Anesthesiology (16% spots filled by DOs)
The Least DO-Friendly Specialties of the 2022 Match

The least DO-friendly specialties of the 2022 Match were:

  • Plastic Surgery (0% spots filled by DOs)
  • Radiation Oncology (0% spots filled by DOs)
  • Vascular Surgery (1% spots filled by DOs)
  • Neurological Surgery (4% spots filled by DOs)

Is it Harder for DOs to Match than MDs?

The answer to this question appears to be changing as the NBOME has taken a hardened stance to educate residency program directors on the efficacy and equivalence of the COMLEX compared to the USMLE. In practice, a bias towards the USMLE may still exist, which is why many DOs take both tests, especially when applying to competitive residencies.

We can see in the data above that friendly specialties do not necessarily mean less competitive, so keep this in mind as you plan your applications and always have a backup in mind in the changing landscape.

Concluding Thoughts

After the DO and MD residency merge, many DOs worried that their chances of matching in their dream residency would decrease. However, it is clear that competitive DOs can match in even the most competitive specialties. If you’re looking for ways to impress for the best chance to match your dream residency, be sure to check out the Yousmle Never Forget Course. Not only will you master – not memorize – for impressive USMLE scores, you’ll also build the foundation to impress attendings on rotations and observerships.

If you’re interested in a trusted residency advisor, check out our residency advisory services.

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Want FREE Cardiology Flashcards?

Cardiology is key for impressive USMLE scores. Master cardiology from a Harvard-trained anesthesiologist who scored USMLE 270 with these 130+ high-yield flash cards. You’ll be begging for cardio questions - even if vitals make you queasy.

Subscribe
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