Medical School Enrollment Hits 2-Decade High – Underrepresented Groups Make Gains

December 9, 2020


Despite the unprecedented disruption courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of first-year medical students grew, hitting a two-decade high in 2020, according to new data from the Association of American Medical Colleges. It’s welcome news as the nation’s looming physician shortage continues to be a source of angst for medical centers and educators. Even better? Multiple persistently unterrepresented groups are making gains.

The total number of matriculants rose to 22,239 this year – a 1.7-percent increase over the 2019 entering class. And the class of 2021 is on pace to beat those figures, as the number of applicants already is up 18 percent compared to last year.

“This increased interest in medicine comes at a crucial moment,” said David J. Skorton, MD, AAMC president and CEO. “The pandemic is spotlighting the extraordinary services that physicians provide on the front lines. It’s heartening to see that more students want to pursue a career in medicine in order to serve their communities and make a difference.”

Efforts on the part of schools and educators toward improving diversity in the medical field are beginning to pay off:

  • The number of Black or African American matriculants increased by 10.5 percent to 2,117.
  • Among them, Black or African American men entering medical school rose 12.2 percent.
  • Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish-origin applicants matriculants increased 8.6% to 2,678.
  • American Indian or Alaska Native matriculants rose 7.8% to 248.
  • Women matriculants continued a 5-year trend of outnumbering male counterparts and now make up more than half of medical school matriculants, applicants and enrollees.

“We’re moving slowly in the right direction with more students from underrepresented groups entering medical school,” Skorton said. “Our goal is to keep increasing the number of students from underrepresented groups until they are no longer underrepresented in medicine.”

The entering class of 2020 boasts an average undergraduate GPA of 3.73 and some 644 volunteer hours each, totaling more than 14 million hours of service nationwide.

Continued efforts to address projected physican shortage – upward of 139,000 by 2033 - over the past few decades include expanded class sizes, opening of 30 new schools and urges for Congress to lift caps on federally funded residency positions.

Though the focus on growth means more opportunity for medical school hopefuls, competition remains fierce. Let WOLFPACC help you develop a competitive edge with one-on-one tutoring and review courses designed to help you ace your COMLEX and USMLE exams on the first try. Call 904-209-3140 to learn how.