Medical school enrollment climbs

Finally, some encouraging news about physician supply. Enrollment at medical schools increased by 3.1 percent this year and if that continues, total enrollment could go up by 30 percent by 2016, according to a study by the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Eleven medical schools included in the survey admitted their inaugural classes between 2007 and 2012. In 2012, 4 percent of first–year medical school students attended those schools.

Men are fueling the surge. “The number of men applying to and enrolling in medical school increased [in] all racial and ethnic groups,” according to an AAMC statement.

Applicants held strong academic credentials, with an average undergraduate GPA of 3.54 and combined median MCAT score of 29.

There are still bottlenecks. The AAMC states that the enrollment “will not [yield] a single new doctor to care for patients unless Congress lifts the 1997 limits on residency training positions.”

The students in the study have not yet chosen a specialty, which they do at the end of their fourth year, so anyone who wants to see how the primary care physician shortage might be addressed will have to wait until then for the official word.

Meanwhile, the AAMC does ask medical students what specialty they intend to follow in its “Matriculating Student Questionnaire,” and the 2012 version of this is due within the next few months.

It will be posted on the AAMC’s Web site:

Total and first-time applicants to U.S. medical schools

Change in number of total applicants from prior year

First-time enrollment

Source: Association of American Medical Colleges