Medical school enrollment on track to hit targets

Federal residency freeze may undermine enrollment increase, group warns

Topics: Workforce, Recruitment and Retention, Physician Issues

May 7, 2013

U.S. medical schools are on track to enroll as many as 21,434 medical students in the 2017-18 academic year and meet  targets set by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

AAMC in 2006 recommended that medical school enrollment by 2015 exceed 2002's 16,488-student enrollment by at least 30%.

The new enrollment projection is based on a recent survey by the AAMC's Center for Workforce Studies, which was released last week at the center's annual conference. The survey results indicate that enrollment growth would be distributed among:

  • The 125 medical schools that have been accredited as of 2002, which are projected to account for 62% of expected growth between 2002 and 2017;
  • The 16 new medical schools accredited since 2002, which are projected to account for 31% of the expected growth; and
  • The three schools that are applicants with the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, which are projected to account for 7%.

However, the survey also found that 42% of medical school deans are concerned nationwide enrollment would outpace available residencies in graduate medical education. Another 33% reported that limited residencies are a "major concern" in their state.

AAMC President and CEO Darrell Kirch in a statement said, "We're pleased to see our nation's medical schools increasing enrollment to address the projected physician shortage." However, he cautioned that increased enrollment "will not result in a single new practicing physician unless Congress acts now to lift the cap on residency training positions"(Caramenico, FierceHealthcare, 5/3; Landen, Modern Physician, 5/3 [subscription required]).

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