Medical School Enrollment Soars Hits AAMC Goal

August 7, 2019


In 2006, in response to concerns about a future physician shortage, the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) issued a challenge. Officials recommended a 30-percent increase in first-year enrollment in medical schools accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), the US Department of Education-recognized accrediting body for programs leading to the M.D. degree nationwide and in Canada, in cooperation with the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools (CACMS).

Though a few years past the initial projected date of 2015, that goal was not just met, but surpassed in the most recent academic year, according to a report by the AAMC. Research shows that US med school enrollment has grown by 31 percent since the 2002-2003, the benchmark year upon which AAMC officials based its recommendation. Using the baseline of the 2002-2003 first-year enrollment of 16,488 students, a 30-percent increase corresponds to an increase of 4,946 students for a total of 21,434. That goal was attained in 2018-2019 when first-year matriculation reached 21,622 students.

It’s not just MD-granting schools that are seeing substantial growth. First-year matriculation at DO-granting schools in 2018-2019 hit 8,124 – a 164-percent increase from 3,079 students in 2002-2003. Combined first-year matriculation at existing MD-granting and DO-granting schools increased by 10,179 students, a 52-percent increase compared with 2002-2003.

Expanded enrollment at existing medical schools along with the creation of multiple new medical schools helped push the achievement. In 2002, there were 125 LCME-accredited medical schools in the US. As of March 2019, the LCME had granted full, provisional, or preliminary accreditation status to 29 more medical schools, for a total of 154 U.S. MD-granting schools. Plus, the American Osteopathic Association’s Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA) lists 37 DO-granting schools operating at 57 sites during the 2018-2019 academic year, an increase of 17 DO-granting schools since 2002-2003. By the start of the 2026-2027 school year, at least two additional schools with applicant or candidate status likely will attain accreditation and launch enrollment.

While the enrollment boost is expected to help fill some of the projected gap between the need for medical services and trained, quality physicians to meet that need, the increase also increases competition for choice residency positions, as enrollment rates outpace growth in graduate medical education. To gain the competitive edge for those residencies, consider enrolling at WOLFPACC. Our innovative approach to the study and practice of medicine will help you ace your COMLEX and USMLE exams and better prepare you for the challenges of medical school. Call 904-209-3140 to talk with a WOLFPACC enrollment specialist today.