While strides toward improving diversity in medical schools and, ultimately, the medical profession have been made over the past decades, there remains much room for improvement, statistics show.
Currently, about 55 percent of medical school applicants are white and of them, 54 percent of them are male. Hispanic or Latino students make up eight percent of applicants and African Americans represent just seven percent of new applicants. Of black applicants, 65 percent are women.
The sheer numbers of applicants of nearly all ethnicities are growing. Last year saw a record high number of 20,630 people enrolling in medical school – a 20-percent growth from 2002. The number of African-American applicants increased by 16.8 percent to a total of 4,661 and enrollees rose 11.6 percent to 1,576. And the number of Hispanic or Latino applicants grew by 10.3 percent to 4,839, while enrollees increased by 6.9 percent to 1,988.
But while the numbers are growing, percentages of minorities represented in the medical field still fall behind correlating figures in their communities. Improving this is critical because research suggests that black and Hispanic doctors tend to work in areas that have higher proportions of residents of their own ethnicities – and those community members are more likely to seek medical treatment and advice from someone with whom they better relate. Statistics show that 30 percent of blacks and 42 percent of Hispanics never visit a doctor over the course of a year, compared to just 23 percent of whites.
Residents of rural areas also are in need of better access to medical care. About 20 percent of the American population lives in rural settings, yet only 10 percent of doctors practice there. Compounding the issue is the fact that just four percent of family medicine training and five percent of internal medicine training occurs at rural, community-based health clinics.
If you are a minority considering a medical career, or if the thought of practicing in one of the rural areas of the country that most need improved access to healthcare, know that you’re in high demand in the medical field. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the medical community expects a shortage of over 130,000 family physicians by the year 2025. More than 20 other specialties also face shortages. That means lots of opportunity for newly trained doctors.
To help assure your success in medical school and, ultimately, a medical career, start with a call to WOLFPACC. Call 904-209-3140 to speak with an enrollment specialist about our various med school and exam preparation courses.