Medical school enrollment on track to hit targets

Federal residency freeze may undermine enrollment increase, group warns

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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