Overall enrollment and diversity of applicants drove a 3.1% increase in medical school enrollment, according to figures released by the Association for American Medical Colleges.
More than 45,000 students applied to medical schools this year, and first-time applicants, considered to be a barometer of interest in medicine, set another record, increasing by 3.4%. First-time enrollment at medical schools grew 1.5% to more than 19,500 students.
All major racial and ethnic groups saw increases in applicants and enrollees this year, AAMC said in a press release. A record number of black and Hispanic students applied. After decreases in both applicants and enrollees in 2011, the number of American Indian and Alaska Native applicants and enrollees increased. Asian applicants and enrollees also increased.
ACP's executive vice president and CEO, Steven Weinberger, MD, FACP, said, "Hopefully there would be more of an interest in primary care but we don’t know whether that's the case. In any case, being able to increase the diversity of the workforce would be great and any movement along those lines is in the best interests of health care and of our patients."
Medical schools are on track to increase total enrollment 30% by 2016. But AAMC's president and CEO said medical school enrollment will not translate into more doctors unless Congress lifts the 1997 limits on residency training positions.
Dr. Weinberger described the cap on residency slots as a bottleneck that will result in international medical graduates, who currently comprise about one in four residents, not being able to secure residencies.
ACP has advocated for private insurers to join in paying for residencies, a position called all-payer funding of graduate medical education.