A new survey from the Association of American Medical Colleges (PDF)
predicts that by 2016, first-year enrollment in U.S. medical schools will nearly match the 30% increase in enrollment that the association called for in 2006.
According to the AAMC's 2011 Medical School Enrollment Survey, first-year medical school enrollment will record a gain of 29.6% in the 14-year period from the 2002-03 school year to the 2016-17 school year. That increase would bring the enrollment total to 21,376—slightly under the 30% increase that the AAMC had hoped to see by 2015 to address a pending physician shortage. The AAMC estimates a shortage of 90,000 primary-care and specialty physicians by 2020.
AAMC President and CEO Dr. Darrell Kirch lauded the efforts of medical schools in increasing enrollment but said more work is needed: "This won't amount to a single new doctor in practice without an expansion of residency positions," he said in a news release
The Washington-based AAMC surveyed deans from 134 U.S. medical schools, first contacting them by e-mail. The AAMC saw a 95% response rate, as129 schools participated in the Internet survey. Researchers filled in gaps by using answers from the previous year for schools that didn't respond. For seven schools in the process of being accredited, researchers culled data from the institution's website or a school official was interviewed on the phone or via e-mail.
Established schools will record most of the first-year enrollment growth, the AAMC predicts, with 58% of the growth coming from the 125 schools accredited as of 2002. New schools accredited after 2002 will account for 25% of the growth, according to the AAMC. The rest, 17%, will come from the schools in the process of accreditation.