Separate but Equal? The Sorting of USMDs and Non-USMDs in Internal Medicine Residency Programs

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The US internal medicine workforce relies on international and osteopathic medical graduates to fill gaps in residency. Little is known about the distribution and impact of IMGs, DOs, and USMDs concentrating in different types of IM programs.


Determining the extent to which USMDs, DOs, and IMGs concentrate in different types of IM programs and comparing Board pass rates by program concentration.

Design, Settings, and Participants

This survey study used data from the AMA’s FREIDA database for 476 non-military IM programs in 2017–2018, and 2016–2018 ABIM exam pass rates for 388 accredited programs.


Outcomes were (1) program concentration based on percentage of residents who were USMDs, IMGs, and DOs in 2017–2018 and (2) 2016–2018 program ABIM pass rates as proxies for program quality. Key independent variables were hospital type (community-based, community-based university-affiliated, or university-based) when program concentration was the outcome, and program concentration when Board pass rates were the outcome.


Twenty-five percent of programs were “USMD-dominated,” 17% were “DO-dominated,” 42% were “IMG dominated,” and 16% were “integrated.” The chances that a university hospital was USMD-dominated were 32 percentage points higher than that for a community hospital (AME = 0.32, baseline probability = 0.11, 95% CI, 0.17–0.46, P < .001). USMD-dominated programs also had significantly higher pass rates by 4.0 percentage points (AME = 0.04, baseline proportion = 0.90, 95% CI, 0.02–0.06, P < .001) than integrated programs, while DO-dominated programs had significantly lower pass rates (AME = − 0.1, baseline proportion = 0.90, 95% CI, − 0.15 to − 0.04, P < .001).


USMDs and non-USMDs systematically cluster in certain types of residency programs and their training may not be equal, as measured by board pass rates.

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The authors wish to gratefully acknowledge research support from the Temple University Sociology Department and the Center for the Humanities at Temple (CHAT). We also thank the NRMP for giving us permission to cite their data.

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Correspondence to Tania M. Jenkins Ph.D..

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The study was deemed non-human subjects research by Temple University IRB.

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Jenkins, T.M., Franklyn, G., Klugman, J. et al. Separate but Equal? The Sorting of USMDs and Non-USMDs in Internal Medicine Residency Programs. J GEN INTERN MED (2019).

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  • graduate medical education
  • workforce supply
  • admissions/selection