Information about recent graduates of medical schools and the characteristics
of physicians training in graduate medical education (GME) portends the size
and composition of the US physician workforce of the near future.
To examine trends in training programs and career choices of graduating
male and female residents and to monitor trends in the size of the entire
Design, Setting, and Participants
The American Medical Association and Association of American Medical
Colleges jointly surveyed residency programs during the academic year 2003-2004
about active, transferred, and graduated residents, as well as about program
characteristics. The 8192 programs confirmed the status of 94.6% of residents.
Nearly 86% of program directors (n = 7040) completed the accompanying program
Main Outcome Measures
Overall trends during the last 6 years in the number and characteristics
of residents and programs, as well as the specialty of male and female graduating
There were 99 964 active residents during the 2003-2004 academic
year, the highest ever recorded by the National GME Census. The number of
residents (n = 22 444) entering US graduate medical education programs
for the first time is also the highest on record. In 1999, 28 773 physicians
completed training, 10 546 (36.7%) of whom were women. In 2003, there
were 29 745 graduates, 11 681 (39.3%) of whom were women, representing
a 10.8% increase. The number of obstetrics/gynecology male graduates decreased
31.3%, while female graduates increased 18.2%. Other specialties that lost
men and gained women were dermatology, family medicine, internal medicine,
ophthalmology, pathology, psychiatry, and general surgery. The proportion
of graduates who pursued additional training increased; percentages were 27.2%
in 1999, 29.6% in 2001, and 32.1% in 2003. In 2000, 35.7% of programs provided
opportunities to develop cultural competence; the percentage in 2003 was 50.7%.
The percentage of programs with complementary/alternative medicine curriculum
has held steady at 24%.
The number of physicians in GME is at its highest, and nearly one third
of physicians completing training in one program continue on in another. The
choices of female residents parallel those of male residents in many respects,
but there are important differences.