Medical schools on target to reach enrollment goals

But with the growth in residency slots lagging behind, the United States will be short 70,000 physicians by 2025.

By Myrle Croasdale — Posted June 23, 2008

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

Expansion of first-year enrollment at allopathic medical schools appears on pace to meet the Assn. of American Medical Colleges' 2006 recommendation of 30% growth by 2015. However, new AAMC projections suggest the planned expansions will ease, but not completely erase, an anticipated physician shortfall.

Speaking at the AAMC's 2008 physician work force research conference in May, Edward S. Salsberg, director of the AAMC's Center for Workforce Studies, said preliminary data suggest a shortage of 70,000 physicians by 2025. The estimates were based on the organization's recently released 2007 medical school expansion survey.

"The bottom line is, even with graduate medical education expansion, we'll have more demand than supply of physicians [by 2025]," Salsberg said.

The AAMC survey of allopathic medical schools found the institutions plan to increase first-year enrollment 21% or 3,400 students by 2012, for a total of 19,909 students in the 2012 entering class. Combined with osteopathic medical school expansions, the number of first-year medical students will go up 28%or 5,569 students by 2012, Salsberg said.

Two years ago, the AAMC urged its members to expand their 2002 enrollment numbers by 30%, for a net increase of 4,946 medical students by 2015.

Salsberg now projects that allopathic medical schools will reach the 30% growth mark a year later, in 2016. The latest survey asked AAMC members their enrollment plans for the next five years.

Salsberg noted that medical schools are only part of the work force pipeline, and that the AAMC has recommended the number of residency slots be expanded to meet medical enrollment increases.

The number of first-year residency positions has grown only 4% over the past 10 years. Without residency slots increasing at the same rate as school seats, the larger U.S. classes will end up replacing international medical graduates in the residency pool, not expanding the total number of physicians, Salsberg said.

Even if the number of first-year residents expands 30%, the U.S. would still be short 70,000 doctor by 2025, he said. Previous estimates projected the U.S. would be short 65,000 to 200,000 physicians by 2020.

Back to top


Boosting supply

Medical schools are expanding enrollment to help meet the projected demand for physicians.

First-year seats Seats added Increase
2002 2012
MD schools 16,488 19,909 3,421 21%
DO schools 3,079 5,227 2,148 70%
Total 19,567 25,136 5,569 28%

Sources: 2007 Assn. of American Medical Colleges enrollment survey; 2007 American Assn. of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine enrollment survey

Back to top



Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story

Read story


American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story

Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story

Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story

Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story

Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story

Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story

Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story

  • Stay informed
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • LinkedIn