The association between specialty match and third-year clerkship performance

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Military Medicine








Purpose: The United States is experiencing an accelerating physician shortage, especially within primary care. Medical educators are actively seeking ways to predict student specialty match and workforce requirements. Previous studies investigating specialty match have focused on factors known at the time of matriculation. This study examined whether third-year clerkship performance could be used to predict specialty match later in medical school. Method: The authors evaluated the clerkship performance of 802 students graduating from the Uniformed Services University between 2007 and 2011. They examined the relationship of students' clerkship grades and National Board of Medical Examiners' clinical subject examination scores to specialty match. In addition, the authors combined student performance in family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics to create composite variables and assessed their associations with the match. Results: Among 802 students, 339 (42.4%) students matched to primary care specialties. There was a positive association between higher family medicine (Odds ratio [OR] 1.65, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.05, 2.59), general surgery (OR 1.91, 95% CI 1.22, 2.99), internal medicine (OR 2.17, 95% CI 1.35, 3.49), and pediatrics (OR 2.59, 95% CI 1.52, 4.43) clerkship grades and students matching into family medicine, general surgery, internal medicine, and pediatrics, respectively. Only family medicine showed a weak correlation between higher National Board of Medical Examiners' scores and specialty match. Conclusions: Higher clerkship performance in four of six Uniformed Services University third-year clerkships is associated with matching into the corresponding specialty. Clerkship performance provides a potential tool for educators in counseling students and predicting future specialty match. © Association of Military Surgeons of the U.S. All rights reserved.

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