Although US students who report a disability have a lower chance of matching into a residency overall, some specialties—including dermatology—are more likely to match students with disabilities. Researchers say these specialties can be models for others. 

Findings come from a study, published in JAMA, that analyzed match outcomes from the National Resident Matching Program for individuals applying to residency programs in 2022 and 2023. Of the nearly 70,000 people who applied for residencies during that time period, 5.9% reported on the application that they had a disability.

Researchers found a small but significant difference in match rates for both groups. While 83.2% of those not reporting disabilities successfully matched to residency programs, only 81.8% of applicants who reported a disability matched. The lowest rates of matching for applicants with disabilities were general surgery (76.2% v. 65.5%) and orthopedic surgery (73.3% v. 58.6%).

“Physicians with disabilities are underrepresented in the medical field,” says Mytien Nguyen, an MD/PhD student at Yale School of Medicine and lead author of the study, in a statement. “Lower match rates could contribute to that disparity, which ultimately has negative impacts on the field and patient care.”

Otolaryngology, neurology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, dermatology, pediatrics, internal medicine, and emergency medicine, were specialties with higher match rates for applicants with a disability.