Medical Schools Enrollment Up 29%

John Commins, May 15, 2018

While medical schools are reporting solid enrollment and student diversity gains over the past 15 years, the dearth of medical residency slots remains a top concern.

First-year enrollment at U.S. medical schools has increased by 29% since 2002, but school administrators worry that the numbers of medical residency positions available for their graduates aren’t keeping pace.

The Association of American Medical Colleges, in its Results of the 2017 Medical School Enrollment Survey, found that 64% of medical school deans expressed concern about the availability of residency slots in their own state, and 78% expressed concern about the availability nationally.

The survey found that:

  • Using the baseline of the 2002 first-year enrollment of 16,488 students, a 30% increase corresponds to an increase of 4,946 students. The survey results indicate that the 30% goal will be attained by 2018-2019.
     
  • 54% of medical schools saw competition for clinical training sites from other healthcare professional programs, an increase from around one-quarter of respondents in 2009.
     
  • Nearly all deans (99%) said they had or were planning programs or policies designed to recruit a diverse student body, up from 84% in 2015.
     
  • 44% of deans reported concerns about their incoming students' ability to find residency positions of their choice after medical school.
     
  • A majority of schools are experiencing competition for clinical training sites from DO-granting schools and other healthcare professional programs.
     
  • 46% of deans reported feeling pressure to pay for clinical training slots, though 59% of schools do not pay for clinical training.
     
  • Enrollment increases at DO-granting schools continue to accelerate. First-year enrollment at DO-granting schools in 2017–2018 was 8,088, a 163% increase from 3,079 students in 2002–2003.
     
  • Combined first-year enrollment at existing MD-granting and DO-granting schools increased by 9,859 students, a 50% increase compared with 2002–2003.
John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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