According to data recently released by the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges), for the first time in history there are more women than men enrolled in US medical schools.
Of the 21,338 matriculants in 2017, 50.7% were women, compared with 49.8% in 2016. This represents a 3.2% increase in females enrolling in med school this year, while male enrollees declined by 0.3%. The number of female matriculants has risen 9.6% since 2015, while the number of males fell 2.3% during the same period.
The report also showed that there is increased diversity in med schools around the country. The number of black or African American students enrolling in med school increased by 12.6% from 2015-2017, while the number of first-year students who were Hispanic, Latino, or of Spanish origin rose by 15.4%. However, there is still a shortage of American Indian/Alaskan Natives and black male med school applicants.
According to Darrell G. Kirch, MD, AAMC president and CEO, “This year’s matriculating class demonstrates that medicine is an increasingly attractive career for women and that medical schools are creating an inclusive environment. While we have much more work to do to attain broader diversity among out students, faculty and leadership, this is a notable milestone.”
Med school enrollment has increased by nearly 30% since 2002. However, as per an earlier 2017 AAMC study, there is expected to be a shortage of between 40,800 and 104, 900 physicians by 2030. Future physicians will face more demands due to a growing and aging population.
There are ongoing efforts to ensure that there will be enough qualified physicians in the future. Twenty-two new medical schools have opened in the last 10 years, with 2 opening just last year.
Increasing diversity in the physician population continues to be important in addressing public health needs. According to David Acosta, MD, chief diversity and inclusion officer at the AAMC, “Research shows that minority students are up to three times more likely to practice in a community made up of individuals from the same race or ethnicity and to practice in medically underserved areas.”
Acosta feels that med schools need to ensure that their institutional learning environment is welcoming and inclusive to groups underrepresented in medicine. The environment not only needs to help them survive, but to thrive as well.
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