Here's the thread you've all been waiting for! Here's my analysis of the 2021 data, please let me know if you have any questions about these figures or requests for other analysis! Data is CMG only for the first round match unless otherwise specified.
Overall Match Rate over Time
The overall match rate is somewhat noisy and varies by year, but based on the last 13 years there is a (very) small trend towards a lower match rate. The rate of matching to first choice specialty has also very slightly decreased. More significantly, the rate of matching to your first choice program, or in your top 3 programs, has declined by ~8% and ~5% since 2009, respectively.
Data by School of Graduation
This shows the relative percentage of first choice specialty for each school, with actual number of applicants labelled. This demonstrates the relatively higher proportion of applicants to family medicine at NOSM, and surgery at McGill, for instance.
2021 Match Rate
The following graph shows match outcome by school, again as a percentage of applicants per school, with actual number of applicants labelled. Note the axis starts at 84%.
So, for example, 244 UdeM applicants (~89%) matched in the first round. Of those that didn't match in the first round, 21 did not participate in the second round, 8 applied for the second round, and 5 matched and 3 went unmatched. I found this data very helpful to see what 1st round unmatched applicants do. The question of deferring graduation vs 2nd round has been a hot topic, and it's clear that not participating in the 2nd round is more popular at some schools vs others. Could it be that UdeM or UofT may be more supportive of graduation deferrals vs Manitoba or McMaster?
Match Rates Over Time
I went back over the last 5 years of data to see if there were any trends in individual school match rates. They are on separate graphs by geographical area for ease of visibility. For comparison's sake the Y axis scale is the same. Spoiler: I don't think there's much in the way of any clear trend.
No obvious trends, but it seems if a school has a particularly bad year they bounce back pretty well the following year, except for Sask in 2019/2020 (and 2021 it seems). Time will tell if Western bounces back or we can extrapolate the 2020/2021 trend to a match rate of 76% in 2023
Matched Discipline Rank by School
This data shows which specialty matched applicants ended up in, in the first round match, as a proportion of total matched applicants. Note the scale starts at 70%.
We can see that U of T had the highest match rate to first choice disciplines (irregardless of program location) compared to Sherbrooke. Interestingly 3 people matched to their 5th or lower choice of specialty!
Matched Program Rank by School
This data shows which program rank matched applicants ended up matching to in the first round (regardless of specialty), as a proportion of total matched applicants. Note that this scale starts at 0%.
Seems these days roughly 55% match to their top rank, and U of T and NOSM did particularity well at ~65%.
Destination Location by School
There have been a couple discussions recently about home school and home province advantage when it comes to matching with CaRMS, so the following charts show where people end up, by individual school and then by province.
Not sure why the second one is so big lol. Generally home school and home province preference is a thing, although schools within provinces are more incestuous, and obviously the francophone schools tend to intermingle.
Data by Specialty
The following graphs show the distribution of applicants among each specialty, with cumulative values of applicants who only applied to that specialty, applied to that specialty as their first choice but also backed up/parallel planned with a different specialty, or who applied to it as a back up/parallel plan (ie not their first choice specialty). They are presented as three separate charts as the wildly varying scale ie ~2000 family medicine vs. 7 in neuropathology.
Some interesting things jump out here - half of all IM and FM applicants are applying not as their first choice. To better see it in terms of percentage here is each specialty presented as proportions of applicants only applying to it, applying as first of multiple applications, or as not their first choice:
It seems that radiology, cardiac surg, ortho, gen surg, IM, anatomical pathology??, FM and medical microbiology?? are the most "do or die" specialties. I also ran the numbers for change in application numbers for each specialty since last year but it's essentially the same results as change in competitiveness, see below.
The way I've previously defined "competitiveness" for a specialty is the ratio of first choice applicants to spots. It's not perfect but I think it's the best we can do with the data available. A specialty is more compeditive if there are a much higher proportion of applicants to spots, whereas an noncompetitive specialty has more spots than applicants. Obviously this doesn't account for a significant number of applicants as a second choice specialty, who may be well qualified if their first choice was even more compeditive.
Below is the 2021 ratio of applicants to spots, blue is 1st choice applicants and red is total applicants.
As you can see ENT was the most compeditive this year with more than 2 applicants for every spot, and general pathology the least with 1 first choice applicant for 7 spots. When you consider total applicants peds neuro is the most compeditive, which is a surprise. Once again derm, optho, ER, plastics, urology, are in the top tier this year, with special guest peds neuro. The following graph shows the percent change in competitiveness ratio (using 1st choice applicants to quota) in 2021 vs 2020:
For some reason medical genetics was more than 300% more compeditive this year, and nuclear medicine was way down. Urology, ortho, ENT, heme path, and PMR had signficant jumps. I guess covid scared people off public health, and cardiac surgery and gen path also dropped off. Most disciplines are consistent.
Alternatively, you can look at competitiveness of specialties by the proportion of first ranked applicants who actually match to that specialty. Here's the chart of percentage of first ranked applicants who matched in order.
So all applicants who ranked nuclear medicine first matched to it, and, as an extreme outlier, none did to FM + EM. Just under half matched ENT, which correlates with the 2 first choice applicants for every spot above.
IMG Applicants and Match Rate
This isn't in a chart or graph, but when I was Table 6 (for first round of the match) I noted that of IMGs, 2042 registered for CaRMS, 1746 submitted an application, but only 1184 "participated". I assume the remainder didn't get an interview or otherwise did not submit a rank list? Also interesting to note that of the IMG applicants who "participated" only 154 were current year graduates, the remainder being previous year graduates. I always assumed a larger proportion of the thousands of IMGs to be current graduates. Current year IMG applicants have a much higher match rate in the first round, of those 154, 71% matched (110), compared to 24% of previous graduates (251 of 1032). I wish we had more data on match rate on year of graduation, but in general if you're an IMG I hope you match the first time around. For context the CMG first round match rate for current year graduates was 94% (2696/2854) and previous graduates was 82% (50/61). I'm assuming here that if you don't match and defer graduation then you are counted as a current year graduate but I cannot confirm.
That's all I've got. Again, let me know if there's any other questions I can try and answer with the data.
Absolutely agree that everyone should have a reasonable backup plan. Ultimately, if someone really wants to serve the community and make a difference in the field of health, it is possible to do so in of the numerous allied healthcare professions or even in other realms such as advocacy, law, public policy, etc. If someone has a "med school or bust" mentality, then there were probably other reasons for wanting to be a physician (i.e., wealth, prestige, etc.) - which are completely fine, but I get annoyed when people are disingenuous about it.
However, I don't like the metaphor that getting into medical school is like "playing the lottery". Pretending that its a purely luck-based process minimizes the accomplishments of those that do get in (i.e., they got in by chance) and discourages other people to apply. There is certainly some element of subjectivity but it is my experience that, over time, the strong candidates (especially those who are willing to learn from each application cycle) do get offered a place somewhere. Sorry to hear that you didn't have any luck after so many cycles. I would encourage you to keep applying, but I know that's easier said than done.
Also, the application process is not as bleak as you make it out to be. The acceptance rate among domestic Canadian applicants is ~15%, not 3%.
First rewrite doesn't go on the MSPR, so study hard and pass and the only lasting impact will be some stress and lost time. No idea on the format. Judging by the preclerkship grade curves failures are rare (not to minimize anyone who had it happen to them) and the impression we were given is the school doesn't view a failure as a "you" problem but as a "what affected you that will be different next time" issue since getting in means they're confident you're academically strong enough.
The actual policy appears to be the same for clerkship/preclerkship: