Should you Scramble into Family Medicine?

AOA Post-Match ScrambleThe AOA Match was on February 8th, immediately followed by the “scramble” of un-matched seniors. The scramble is the AOA version of the ACGME SOAP, during which fourth year medical students who did not match try to find a residency position with programs that still have open slots.  Five days prior to AOA Match Day an article on The DO (“If at first you don’t Match“) suggested that those scrambling should consider family medicine as their last option, rather than risk being a repeat applicant the following year. Yet it seemed to give short shrift to the idea of family medicine as a viable alternative, giving in to the idea that FM is the least desirable specialty. The comments section mostly emphasized this, with discussion of prelim vs TRI years and the controversial MO “Assistant Physician” licensing pathway as alternatives to “going FM.”

Family Medicine is an Opportunity

Obviously, I’m biased, but Family Medicine is awesome and you should consider it as more than a last ditch backup.  I can’t recommend the FM pathway for those who dream of spending everyday in the OR, want to deliver babies in large metropolitan hospitals or handle codes every shift in a Level I Trauma center. But for those who don’t mind living in a smaller city, enjoyed more than one aspect of third year and found the day-to-day variety of family medicine intriguing… pursuing the broad spectrum of FM may be the right path to your future. Family medicine contains a little bit of nearly every specialty and allows each doctor the opportunity to focus on their unique interests. If you “had” to scramble into an FM residency you will likely find that the future is full of opportunities that will surprise you. In fact, you have more opportunities within family medicine then you do in most specialties, without the need to pursue a fellowship afterwards!

The Scramble is Still a Match

Family medicine gets neglected in many a medical school, and mocked by those in other specialties; but so much of that is due to the quality of the rotations one gets in FM. If you never learn about the variety within the field it’s easy to assume that the brief ambulatory rotation or interminably bad rural clerkship arranged by your medical school is the standard of the field. Family medicine is so broad that you can specialize within the field, narrowing your career to focus on what you love to do – from hospitalist medicine, women’s health and urgent care to rural broad spectrum, psychiatry and geriatrics. As Farrah noted in her recent STFM article, The Path You’re Meant to Take, “family medicine holds a world of opportunities and possibilities to explore. Within it, there is a niche for everyone.”

So, even if FM wasn’t your first choice, I’m excited for what the future will hold for you, and welcome you from the scramble into the FM family. Congratulations on your belated Match!

By Pixie


Pixie is happiest reading with a cup of tea in hand. She enjoys women’s health, adolescent medicine, painting and polymer clay. For more info, see her much longer bio on the author page.

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