Blog | Wednesday, October 26, 2011

QD: News Every Day--Minorities fuel med school applications to all-time high

First-time applicants to medical school reached an all-time high in 2011, increasing by 2.6% over last year to about 32,700 students, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. Total applicants rose by 2.8% to nearly 44,000, with gains across most major racial and ethnic groups for a second year in a row.

The growth comes at a time when there is a growing need for doctors and a serious physician shortage, and the applicant pool is increasingly diverse, the AAMC reported in a press release.

Total number of applicants and enrollees from most major racial and ethnic groups increased in 2011:
--After a slight decrease (0.2%) in 2010, black applicants increased by 4.8% while enrollees increased 1.9%;
--Hispanic applicants increased by 5.8% and enrollees increased 6.1%;
--Asian applicants increased by 3.8% and enrollees increased by 3.3% over 2010;
--First-time female applicants increased 3% to nearly 16,000, and first-time male applicants grew nearly 2% to about 16,700 in 2011. The percentage of male (53%) and female (47%) enrollees remained steady from last year.
--American Indian applicants and enrollees decreased from 200 to 169 and 191 to 157, respectively.

The overall academic credentials of applicants remained strong, AAMC reported, with an average GPA of 3.5 and an MCAT exam score of 29. The majority of applicants reported slightly increased rates of premedical experiences in community service and medical research, with 82.5% reporting community service experience in medical and clinical settings, 68.4% in nonclinical community service, and 73% reporting experience in research.

Total enrollment increased by 3% over last year, with more than 19,000 students in the 2011 entering class. Medical schools have steadily been increasing their class sizes since the AAMC called for a 30% increase in enrollment in 2006 to help alleviate anticipated physician workforce shortages.

There has been a 16.6% enrollment increase over 2002, the base year used in calculating the 30% goal. Current projections indicate that medical schools are on target to reach the 30% enrollment increase by 2017.

The majority of this year's growth came from existing schools while a smaller portion came from first-year enrollees at medical education programs established in the past decade, the AAMC reported.