Compensation is a key factor in deciding which residency programs to apply to and where to go. When newly minted doctors apply for residencies, they rank their preferred choices and are ultimately assigned a program through the NRMP Match. Each residency program’s goal is to ensure that all resident positions are filled. However, if not enough residents rank their program, those spots go unfilled and the hospital system ends up understaffed.

We analyzed publicly available match data comparing the match rates of the top 100 institutions. In 2006, when the Seattle Consumer Price Index (CPI) was 190, UW was around the 50th percentile of all institutions in terms of matching rates. However, as the CPI has risen, UW’s match rate has dropped to around the 80th percentile. In other words, 80% of institutions recruit resident physicians better than UW. 

Unfilled spots are a sign of an institution in rapid decline. Programs further lose prestige and applicants as word spreads that they are not seen as desirable. Residents have a choice when they apply to residency, and they are increasingly choosing to look elsewhere.

Other programs have recognized this problem. At UCSF, poor compensation in the early 2000s tracked directly with more unmatched positions. When UCSF instituted significant salary increases, they immediately began filling more positions, a trend which has continued as salary has increased over the last 15 years.  

UW residents have an enormous stake in the prestige of UW. As UW’s stature goes, so go our own prospects for our future careers. UW residents are very worried about these trends. We hope that the leaders at UW are even more so. 

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