More students are seeking medical degrees and more schools are ramping up to accommodate them, some with an eye toward rural health and other underserved populations.
First-year medical school enrollment in 2016-2017 is projected to reach 21,376, a 29.6% increase above first-year enrollment in 2002-2003 that is just shy of the 30% targeted increase by 2015 that the Association of American Medical Colleges called for five years ago.
Combined first-year M.D. and D.O. enrollment at current schools is projected to reach 26,709 by 2016-2017, an increase of 37% compared to 2002-2003, AAMC reported in its "Results of the 2011 Medical School Enrollment Survey."
Of the projected 2002-2016 growth, 58% will be at the 125 medical schools that were accredited as of 2002. Twelve newly accredited schools since 2002 will absorb 25% of the growth, and the remaining 17% will come from seven schools that applied for or have candidate-school standing for accreditation. Without the seven applicant and candidate schools, enrollment growth wouldn't reach the 30% target until beyond 2020.
Other highlights include
--56% of the 2002-2016 enrollment growth has already occurred, with 2,850 of the projected 4,888 new slots already in place as of 2011.
--Of schools surveyed in 2011, 43% indicated they had targeted increases or planned to target increases in enrollment to specific population groups or to meeting the needs of underserved communities.
--The supply of qualified primary care preceptors concerned 74% of schools, while 53% were concerned with the supply of qualified specialty preceptors.
--Of schools surveyed in 2011, 52% indicated concern with their ability to maintain or increase enrollment due to the economic environment, a figure that held steady from the previous year./>
AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD, said in a press release"But this won't amount to a single new doctor in practice without an expansion of residency positions."