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Number of First-Time Medical School Applicants Reaches New High

Medicine Continues to Attract Diverse, Robust Pool of Applicants

Washington, D.C., October 24, 2011— First-time applicants to medical school reached an all-time high in 2011, increasing by 2.6 percent over last year to 32,654 students, according to new data released today by the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges).  Total applicants rose by 2.8 percent to 43,919, with gains across most major racial and ethnic groups for a second year in a row.

“We are very pleased that medicine continues to be an attractive career choice at a time when our health care system faces many challenges, including a growing need for doctors coupled with a serious physician shortage in the near future,” said Darrell G. Kirch, M.D., AAMC president and CEO.

“At the same time the number of applicants is on the rise, we also are encouraged that the pool of medical school applicants and enrollees continues to be more diverse.  This diversity will be important as these new doctors go out into communities across the country to meet the health care needs of all Americans,” Kirch added.

The total number of applicants and enrollees from most major racial and ethnic groups increased in 2011. After a slight decrease (0.2 percent) in 2010, Black/African American applicants increased by 4.8 percent while enrollees increased 1.9 percent.  Hispanic/Latino applicants increased by 5.8 percent and enrollees increased 6.1 percent.  

Even with greater numbers of applicants, medical schools continue to attract well-qualified individuals. The overall academic credentials of applicants remained strong, with an average GPA of 3.5 and an MCAT® exam score of 29.  In addition, the majority of applicants reported slightly increased rates of premedical experiences in community service and medical research, with 82.5 percent reporting community service experience in medical and clinical settings, 68.4 percent in nonclinical community service, and 73 percent reporting experience in research. 

Total enrollment increased by 3 percent over last year, with 19,230 students in the 2011 entering class.  Medical schools have steadily been increasing their class sizes since the AAMC called for a 30 percent increase in enrollment in 2006 to help alleviate anticipated physician workforce shortages.  The majority of this year’s growth came from existing schools while a smaller portion came from first-year enrollees at medical education programs newly established over the last decade.  In total, there has been a 16.6 percent enrollment increase over 2002, the base year used in calculating the 30 percent goal. Current projections indicate that medical schools are on target to reach the 30 percent enrollment increase by 2017. 

“U.S. medical schools have been responding to the nation’s health challenges by finding ways not only to select the right individuals for medicine, but also to educate and train more doctors for the future.  However, to increase the nation’s supply of physicians, the number of residency training positions at teaching hospitals must also increase to accommodate the growth in the number of students in U.S. medical schools.  We are very concerned that proposals to decrease federal support of graduate medical education will exacerbate the physician shortage, which is expected to reach 90,000 by 2020,” said Kirch.
 

Additional highlights: 

  • Medicine remains an attractive career choice for both men and women, with first-time female applicants increasing 3 percent to 15,953, and first-time male applicants growing nearly 2 percent to 16,698 in 2011.  The percentage of male (53 percent) and female (47 percent) enrollees remained steady from last year.
  • Asian American applicants increased by 3.8 percent and enrollees increased by 3.3 percent over 2010.
  • American Indians applicants and enrollees decreased from 200 to 169 and 191 to 157, respectively. 

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The Association of American Medical Colleges is a not-for-profit association representing all 141 accredited U.S. and 17 accredited Canadian medical schools; nearly 400 major teaching hospitals and health systems, including 51 Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers; and nearly 90 academic and scientific societies. Through these institutions and organizations, the AAMC represents 128,000 faculty members, 75,000 medical students, and 110,000 resident physicians. Additional information about the AAMC and U.S. medical schools and teaching hospitals is available at www.aamc.org/newsroom

Contact

Lesley Ward
Senior Media Relations Specialist
Telephone: 202-828-0655
E-mail: lward@aamc.org