Med Schools Boost Enrollment, But Residency Slots Threatened

John Commins, May 4, 2012

The nation's medical schools are on track to boost enrollment 30% by 2016, but they may not have residency slots available for all of their new graduates, the Association of American Medical Colleges reports.

AAMC lobbyist Christiane Mitchell says federal funding for graduate medical education programs is under siege on several fronts, and that graduate education at the nation's medical schools has been targeted for as much as $60 billion in cuts over the next decade.

"We are very worried about a potential bottleneck and that we will see more qualified applicants for residencies than there will be slots," Mitchell says. "We are very concerned that that could happen in the near future. And that will be sped up by the federal cuts in GME support. That is a very real concern."

"If there were a significant cut in residency slots, you would see teaching hospitals reducing the size of their programs and maybe eliminating some training programs. That would be an immediate impact," she told HealthLeaders Media.

The AAMC's annual 2011 Medical School Enrollment Survey found that first-year medical school enrollment is projected to reach 21,376 in 2016-17, a 30% increase above first-year enrollment in 2002-03 and in line with the 30% increase by 2015 that the AAMC called for in 2006.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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