Enrollment at U.S. medical schools has increased by 25% since 2002, according to the results of the annual American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) report. This increase translates to an additional 4,143 new students annually.
Here are the highlights of the report:
• According to AAMC President and CEO Darrell G Kirch, MD, the nation’s medical schools “understand the integral role they play in meeting the future health workforce needs of this country which, according to our latest data, will now require up to an additional 94,700 physicians by 2025.”
• The report reveals that first-year U.S. medical school enrollment will reach 21,434 students by 2017-2018, which is a 30% increase over the 2002 baseline acceptance level that the AAMC required a decade ago to deal with the country’s coming physician shortage. Since 2002, 20 new medical schools have opened, accounting for 37% of the overall projected growth by 2020-2021. Seven additional schools are currently waiting for accreditation and could increase the percentage. Schools in the southern United States will account for 42% of the growth in medical school admissions by the end of the decade.
• Nationally, medical schools are vigorously reacting to demanding community health needs through various projects. In 2015, 84% of medical schools stated that they had, or planned to have within the next two years, detailed admissions programs or policies solely for the purpose of recruiting a diverse student body interested in providing care to underserved populations. Almost 80% of schools have established or plan to establish programs or policies for minority groups now underrepresented in medicine. 67% are working toward increasing the number of students from disadvantaged upbringings, and 49% are targeting students from rural populations.
• One of the main concerns of medical school deans is the readiness of training locations for their students. 50% stated that they were worried about their own incoming students’ capacity to find residency positions, and 85% reported being concerned about the availability of clinical locations for clerkships – the required training for third- and fourth-years students must complete before graduation.
• While the number of U.S. MD-granting schools is growing, the number of colleges of osteopathic medicine is surging at an unprecedented rate, which has dramatically increased the number of osteopathic medical students. By 2020-2021 the study anticipates an increase in osteopathic first- year enrollment of 185% over the baseline of 2002-2003.
• When merging the first-year enrollment for MD-granting and DO-granting schools, anticipated enrollment is likely to reach 30,186 students by 2020, a 55% increase over the 2002 level.
First and foremost, these results mean that the U.S. may be avoiding a serious doctor shortage or at least reducing its impact.
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