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Medical Schools See Record Numbers Of Enrollees

By Ankita Rao

October 25th, 2013, 5:57 AM

In the face of projected doctor shortages and debate about the future of medicine, a record number of students applied to, and started, medical school this year.

About 20,000 students enrolled in medical school in 2013, around 2.8 percent more than the year before, according to the data distributed by the Association of American Medical Colleges on Thursday. First-time applications were also up by almost 6 percent.

“We haven’t seen a level like this since 1996,” said Darrell G. Kirch, president and CEO of the organization.

He said four new medical schools, and some expanded class sizes, were responsible for the growth. Kirch also said the number of first-time applicants spoke to the sustained interest in the medical field.

Meanwhile, osteopathic medical schools saw a continued surge in their new student pool, with an 11.1 percent growth in enrollment, according to the Association of American Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine. These students, who graduate with a Doctor of Osteopathy, or D.O. degree, practice in the same capacity as M.D.s.

“We’re enjoying the highest increase in applications of any other health profession in the U.S.,” said Bryan Moody, director of enrollment management at Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine, one of the four new D.O. schools that opened in the past year.

Moody said the school has looked to recruit diverse applicants with strong academic records, and is hoping to help address a growing shortage of doctors in the surrounding Indiana area, as well as other communities.

And while both Moody and Kirch said they were encouraged by the number of enrollees this year, they acknowledged that there are still questions ahead for the medical profession: Congress has yet to reach a decision on proposals to increase the Medicare budget to support additional residency slots. Without such a fix, medical students could graduate from their programs without a way to continue their training.

Moody said schools are turning to their senators and representatives to advocate for this change, while hospitals look at additional ways to fund the programs.

The biggest lobbying force may be the students themselves.

“The students are clear-headed about this, they’re some of the strongest advocates,” Kirch said.

4 Responses to “Medical Schools See Record Numbers Of Enrollees”

  1. Bhagwan Satiani says:

    Ms Rao, Its not about the # of medical students that is relevant. It is about how many funded residency positions there are. The slots have been frozen since 2002 after the MMA was passed by Congress. So, all residency positions may now be filled without IMGs but still no increase in net # of physicians to take care of millions who may now be eligible for elective care. With the deficits, more money for additional trainess may not be an option ( and there are not enough NP’s and PA’s) so we have to be creative in different models of care. The one-on-one physician patient encounter may be a relic.

  2. barbara says:

    there are over 25,000 slots, not enough us medical graduates to fill. instead of denying our kids to medical school, they are letting internationals to fill it. we won’t have enough graduates to fill those slots unless we are enrolling over 30,000. (there are will be drop outs, delayed graduates et al..)

  3. Paula says:

    One-on-one physician/patient encounter may be a relic? It’s about time! Treating the common cold, removing warts, giving out flu shots, treating a bruised knee, fully 85 percent of what a PCP does can be done by a registered nurse. These prima donnas need to use their expensive medical school training for something better than basic triage. In the military, you don’t get to see a real doctor unless you are on your death bed. The first person you see at sick bay is an enlisted person. That’s how health care needs to handled in the future. Fact is, in the future, the first person you see when you get sick or injured will not be a doctor. Get use to it!

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