Allopathic med school enrollment rises 2.2%

Private and public schools boost class sizes in response to physician shortage concerns.

By Myrle Croasdale — Posted Nov. 13, 2006

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Medical school expansion is putting more U.S. medical doctors in the pipeline, with 17,370 first-year students enrolled in 2006. That's a 2.2% increase from last year.

The gain was accompanied by a greater overall interest in medical school as institutions saw a 4.6% up-tick in applicants, according to Assn. of American Medical Colleges data released in October. But the 39,109 applications this year is still shy of the record-high 46,965 applicants in 1996.

Expansion at public and private institutions comes as the AAMC is calling for a 30% enrollment increase.

"This is the first wave in response to the doctor shortage," said Darrell G. Kirch, MD, AAMC president. "Our efforts and those of others to highlight the looming doctor shortage are causing more interest. Also, individual schools are doing a better job of reaching out to show students that this is a viable career option." He said he expected growth to continue in 2007.

Among the 125 allopathic medical schools, 28 increased their first-year classes between 5% and 9% this fall, the AAMC said.

Florida State University College of Medicine in Tallahassee saw the sharpest growth, adding 29 more students for a first-year class of 109, a 36% increase. Boston University School of Medicine, Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia and Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit were among schools that increased enrollment 10% or more.

Osteopathic schools will not have enrollment figures until December, according to the American Assn. of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine.

In 2005, the 22 osteopathic schools saw a 7.2% increase in first-year students with an enrollment of 3,908.

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The new freshmen

This year's first-year class at allopathic medical schools is not only bigger, but perhaps brighter. Here are characteristics, according to Assn. of American Medical Colleges statistics (data for osteopathic medical schools are not yet available):

More seek, more enter

4.6% increase in applicants over 2005
2.2% in enrollments

Bigger brains?

3.4 mean grade-point average, on a 4.0 scale

27.6 mean store on the Medical College Admissions test, out of a possible 45, which is the highest since the current score scale was introduced in 1991

More diverse

8.1% increase in black first-year students
1.1% increase in Hispanic/Latino enrollees

Gender balance

51.4% of the 2006-07 freshman class are men, compared with 51.5% last year
48.6% are women compared with 48.5% last year

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Regaining popularity

Medical school started to lose its appeal after 1996, but aspiring students are returning as the number of applications steadily increases.

Applicants Change
1996 46,965 0.8%
1997 43,016 -8.4%
1998 40,996 -4.7%
1999 38,443 -6.2%
2000 37,088 -3.5%
2001 34,860 -6.0%
2002 33,625 -3.5%
2003 34,791 3.5%
2004 35,735 2.7%
2005 37,373 4.6%
2006 39,109 4.6%

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