As the U.S. faces a shortage of physicians—potentially more than 90,000 by 2020—medical schools are seeking to counteract the deficiency with higher enrollments.
In 2006, the Association of American Medical Colleges issued a recommendation to expand medical school enrollment 30%
over its 2002 level of 16,488 students by 2015. In 2017-18, first-year medical school enrollment is anticipated to meet that metric with 21,434 expected enrollees. That's according to the Medical School Enrollment Survey
, as conducted by the AAMC's Center for Workforce Studies, and released during the center's annual Physician Workforce Research Conference this week in Alexandria, Va.
“We're pleased to see our nation's medical schools increasing enrollment to address the projected physician shortage,” AAMC President and CEO Dr. Darrell Kirch
said in a news release.
When the AAMC first set its 30% target in 2006, the organization suggested both increasing enrollment at existing schools and establishing new medical schools. Of the expected growth between 2002 and 2017, 62% will occur in the 125 medical schools accredited as of 2002, 31% will occur in the 16 new schools accredited since 2002, and 7% will occur in the three schools that are applicants with the Liaison Committee on Medical Education.
The survey also found some 40% of the medical school deans expressed “major concern” about enrollment growth outpacing growth in the number of available residency training positions, according to the release. The 2013 Residency Match marked the second time that there were more unmatched M.D. seniors than unfilled and available positions in the match. And though the number of graduate medical education positions continues to grow—it increased by nearly 14% between 2001 and 2010—potential cuts in federal funding could negatively affect that trend.
“Congress now needs to … act quickly to increase the number of federally funded residency training positions in order for all medical school graduates to be able to complete their training and become practicing physicians,” Kirch said in the release.Follow Rachel Landen on Twitter: @MHrlanden