Ophthalmology Residency Research Indicates What Current Applicants Need to Match

Dr in Opthalmology clinicOphthalmology is one of the most competitive specialties in the match. However, since it is not a part of the NRMP, applicants and advisors have less data by which to plan and shape their medical school journey to be a competitive match applicant. A 2012 article by Yousuf and Jones, published in Ophthalmology, established current predictors and match rates for the field. This article is extremely helpful for potential ophthalmology applicants at all stages of their career development. It also provides critical information to advisors helping students construct schedules, activities, and research prior to residency application for a successful match.

The authors of the article reviewed the 2011 Ophthalmology Residency Matching Program (OMP) database where, for the first time, detailed match data was available electronically for analysis. They were able to analyze data for both U.S. Seniors (68%) and Independent Applicants (22%) (which consists of graduates and international medical students, and osteopath graduates).

Some of the applicant and match type results are summarized here:

  • The total number of applicants equaled 746 with 461 positions offered. For every 100 positions, there were 160 applicants.
  • Rank lists were submitted for 622 applicants; with 458 students match = match rate of 74%
  • The match rate was significantly higher for U.S. Seniors than for independent applicants (83% versus 41%)
  • Applicant type breakdown:
  • 68% - U.S. Allopathic Seniors
  • 7% - U.S. Allopathic Graduates
  • 22% - International Applicants
  • 3% - U.S. Osteopath Seniors or Graduates

The following variables were found to be predictors of successful match in ophthalmology:

  • AOA membership. (However, taking a closer look at the data, one can see that there is more to this story, as will be discussed below. If you are not AOA, do not let this keep you from applying.)*
  • Average Step 1 scores 239 ± 14. The Step 1 score average was 223 ± 18 for applicants who did not match.
  • Ranking 6-10 programs. Ranking more programs indicated an 80-90% greater chance of matching.
  • Attending a top 40 NIH-funded ranked medical school. However, it is interesting to look at the data in more detail below, since a large number of applicants who matched did not attend a “top 40 school.” **

Yousuf and Jones also found that applicants with Step 1 scores below 200 had less than a 10% chance of matching. They also reported that data indicated that Step 2 scores were higher for matched applicants than unmatched.

* Taking a closer look at AOA membership as a predictor, the OMP database reports that 273 AOA applicants matched versus 65 AOA members who did not match. However, 108 applicants who were not AOA also matched along with 5 applicants whose AOA status was unknown  -. (There were 34 applicants whose AOA status was unknown.) Even though AOA was a predictor of success, a good number of applicants were successful without AOA membership. Lack of membership should not act as a sole determinant in a student decision to withdraw ophthalmology as a viable career choice.

 AOA Chart

**Matriculation at a top 40 NIH-funded research institution as a predictor for success in the ophthalmology match also bears closer scrutiny. Where 247 applicants who matched attended one of top funded research institutions, 161 applicants who matched attended medical schools that did not fall in the top 40 group. In addition, 67 applicants from top funded institutions did not match in Ophthalmology.


Yousuf and Jones also included recommendations for future applicants in their article. Go to this link for the article abstract: http://www.aaojournal.org/article/S0161-6420(11)01137-7/abstract

To read the article in its entirety, you can access it through your medical school library unless you have a subscription to the journal. It is an extremely valuable article that is the first to use the newly recorded OMP electronic detailed match data not available before 2011.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply