Medical Specialty

How Competitive is an Internal Medicine Residency?

You want to become an internist? Here's what it takes to match into residency.

If you want a career as an internist, here is how competitive the medical specialty is to match into an internal medicine residency. Internal medicine is the branch of medicine that involves physicians who provide long-term, comprehensive care in the office and the hospital, managing both common and complex illnesses in adolescents, adults, and the elderly. Internists are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, infections, and diseases affecting the heart, blood, kidneys, joints, and digestive, respiratory and vascular systems.

Statistics on the Internal Medicine Match

In 2020, internal medicine had a total of 10,996 applicants and 9,127 spots. This equates to 1.2 applicants per position. Of the 3,645 U.S. MD seniors who applied, 107 did not match.

Total Positions Total Number of Applicants Number of Applicants per Position
9,127 10,996 1.2

Osteopathic (DO) Students Matching into Internal Medicine

In 2020, the total number of DO Senior Applicants was 1,456. Of those, 1,349 matched, for a 92.65% match percentage. This makes internal medicine a Very Friendly field for osteopathic students.

Total DO Applicants Matched DO Applicants DO Match Percentage
1,456 1,349 92.65%

International Medical Graduates (IMGs) Matching intoInternal Medicine

Because there are only 0.41 U.S. MD applicants per 1 program spot, internal medicine is considered to be Very Friendly for IMGs students.

Honors, Research and Awards for Internal Medicine Residency Candidates

The average matched U.S. applicant had 7.3 volunteer experiences and 3.3 work experiences. They had 3.3 research experiences and 6.2 abstracts, presentations and publications. That makes this specialty on where the number of publications needed is Medium.

Research Experiences Abstracts, Presentations and Publications Work Experiences Volunteer Experiences
3.3 6.2 3.3 7.3

Average Step 1 and Step 2 Scores for Internal Medicine

The mean U.S. Step 1 score for matched medical students in internal medicine was 235. The mean USMLE Step 2 CK score was 248.

Overall Competitiveness of Internal Medicine Residency and Chances of Matching

The overall competitiveness level of internal medicine is Low for a U.S. senior. With a Step 1 score of 200, the probability of matching is 89%. With a Step 1 score of >240, the probability is 99%.

How long is a residency in internal medicine? What is the lifestyle like for an internal medicine resident?

Compared to other residencies, internal medicine has a Short training length. As far as lifestyle, internists generally have a Medium stress lifestyle. Of course, lifestyle is very subjective and if you love what you do, it does not matter! And if you hate what you do, it can still be rough no matter what. In medicine, you should find the specialty that makes you enjoy your everyday interactions with patients, staff and colleagues.

What is the average salary for an internist?

The average salary post-graduation from an internal medicine residency is $251,000, provided one does not go on to sub-specialty training which can change the salary substantially. Academic versus private practice as well as location also play a large role in physician compensation.

What are fellowships one can do from an internal medicine residency?

Following the successful completion of general internal medicine residency, some physicians may choose to continue their graduate medical education with subspecialty training. Board-certified subspecialists complete additional training and qualifying examinations beyond those required for board certification in internal medicine. Currently, the American Board of Internal Medicine certifies the following fellowships:

What are the best internal medicine residencies in the country?

The best residency for internal medicine, or any specialty, is very driven by personal preference and situation. How close you are to family, loved ones, the type of training environment, the opportunities available are all things to take into consideration above and beyond name recognition of a program. However, there are some highly regarded names in the world of internal medicine including:

    • Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore)
    • ¬†Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston)
    • University of California San Francisco
    • Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Boston)
    • Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science (Rochester, Minn.)
    • Duke University Hospital (Durham, N.C.)
    • Washington University School of Medicine; Barnes-Jewish Hospital; St. Louis Children’s Hospital (St. Louis)
    • University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (Dallas)
    • NewYork-Presbyterian/ Columbia University Irving Medical Center (New York City)
    • Michigan Medicine (Ann Arbor)
    • University of Washington (Seattle)
    • Vanderbilt University Medical Center (Nashville, Tenn.)
    • Stanford (Calif.) Health Care

Much of the data above is available from the AAMC Charting the Outcomes report.

Explore Other Specialties:

SpecialtyAverage Step 1 Score (Matched)Average Step 2 Score (Matched)
Anesthesiology234246
Child Neurology233246
Dermatology248256
Diagnostic Radiology241249
Emergency Medicine233247
Family Medicine221238
General Surgery237249
Internal Medicine235248
Internal Medicine/Pediatrics236250
Interventional Radiology247255
Neurological Surgery248252
Neurology232245
Obstetrics and Gynecology232248
Orthopaedic Surgery248255
Otolaryngology248256
Pathology233242
Pediatrics228245
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation228241
Plastic Surgery249256
Psychiatry227241
Radiation Oncology243250
Vascular Surgery239247
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