AAMC seeks 30% hike in enrollment

An aging work force and a growing population are among the reasons for the upwardly revised recommendation.

By Myrle Croasdale — Posted July 10, 2006

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The Assn. of American Medical Colleges recommended June 19 that enrollment in U.S. allopathic medical schools be increased 30% by 2015, double its previous advice.

If schools heed the call, the expansion would add 5,000 new allopathic students a year, the AAMC said. The additional number of students could be attained by building enrollment at existing schools and constructing new campuses.

"Based on current evidence, we believe this recommended increase will help prevent a future shortfall and meet the health needs of our nation," said Jordan J. Cohen, MD, AAMC president.

In 2005 there were 17,004 first-year allopathic medical students and 3,880 first-year osteopathic medical students. The AAMC said a 30% jump in allopathic enrollment would mean an additional 33,000 MDs by 2020, or 55,000 more physicians when including new osteopaths.

This starts to fill the gap for those predicting a shortage of 85,000 physicians but misses the mark when considering that some experts predict a need for 200,000 more physicians.

Among reasons the AAMC cites why the 30% increase is needed:

  • The U.S. population is expected to grow by 50 million people by 2020.
  • The number of people older than 65 will double between 2000 and 2030.
  • The physician work force is aging, with one of every three active doctors now older than 55 and likely to retire by 2020.
  • A new generation of physicians is working fewer hours and years than their predecessors as they attempt to balance their private and professional lives.

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