US Medical School Enrollment Surges 25 Percent Since 2002

May 4, 2016


If you’re considering a medical career, no doubt you’ve heard news of a coming physician shortage. Researchers with the Association of Medical Colleges predict a total physician shortage of 17 percent by 2025, reflecting a demand that exceeds supply by more than 90,000. Family practice alone will fall short more than 130,000 physicians and more than 20 medical specialties will be lacking in qualified doctors.

Perhaps spurred by the coming trend, future medical practitioners are enrolling in schools nationwide at an unprecedented rate. Results of the Association of American Medical Colleges’ annual Medical School Enrollment Survey show that US medical school enrollment has surged upward 25 percent since 2002. That statistic reflects an additional 4,143 students.

“Our nation’s medical schools have stepped up to meet the challenge the AAMC put before them in 2006,” AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD said at the association’s recent Health Workforce Research Conference in Chicago, where findings of the study survey were first released. “They understand the integral role they play in meeting the future health workforce needs of this country which, according to our latest data, will now require up to an additional 94,700 physicians by 2025.”

Results of the survey indicate that first-year US medical school enrollment will  hit 21,434 students by the 2017–18 school year. That’s a 30-percent increase over the 2002 baseline enrollment level that the AAMC called for a decade ago to to help address the nation’s coming physician shortage. Since 2002, 20 additional medical schools have been established, accounting for 37 percent of the overall estimated growth by 2020–21. Today, another seven new schools await accreditation.

Meanwhile, medical schools nationwide increasingly are developing unique initiatives to respond to pressing community health needs and student needs. For instance, in 2015:

  • 84 percent of schools reported they had or planned to have within the next two years new admission programs or policies aimed specifically at recruiting a diverse student body interested in caring for underserved populations;
  • 80 percent of schools have established or plan to establish programs or policies for minority groups currently underrepresented in medicine;
  • 67 percent of schools have efforts geared toward increasing the number of enrolled students from disadvantaged backgrounds;
  • And 49 percent have efforts targeted at enrolling students from rural communities.

Though opportunity abounds over the next decade, the surge in medical school enrollment also means competition for coveted medical school spots. Make sure you’ve got the competitive edge with a call to St. Augustine, FL-based WOLFPACC to learn more about our USMLE and COMLEX preparatory courses. Call 904-209-3140 to speak with an enrollment specialist today.