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Medical School Enrollment on Pace to Reach 30 Percent Increase by 2017

Washington, D.C., May 2, 2013—U.S. medical schools are on track to increase their enrollment 30 percent by 2017, according to results of the annual Medical School Enrollment Survey conducted by the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) Center for Workforce Studies. 

“We’re pleased to see our nation’s medical schools increasing enrollment to address the projected physician shortage,” said AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, M.D. “But as we saw in the results of this year’s Match, Congress now needs to do its part and act quickly to increase the number of federally funded residency training positions in order for all medical school graduates to be able to complete their training and become practicing physicians."

According to results of the survey, released during the Center’s 9th Annual Physician Workforce Research Conference, first-year medical school enrollment is projected to reach 21,434 in 2017-18. This number represents a 30 percent increase above first-year enrollment in 2002-03, the baseline year used to calculate the enrollment increases that the AAMC called for in 2006.

Of the projected growth in medical school enrollment between 2002 and 2017, 62 percent will occur in the 125 medical schools that were accredited as of 2002, 31 percent will occur in schools accredited since 2002, and 7 percent will come from schools that are currently applicant or candidate schools with the LCME (Liaison Committee on Medical Education). The majority (55 percent) of the 4,946 new positions projected by 2017 are expected to come from public medical schools, with the greatest growth occurring in the Southern region, where schools account for a striking 46 percent of the increase between 2002 and 2017.

The survey also found that 40 percent of the medical school deans surveyed expressed “major concern” about enrollment growth outpacing growth in the number of available residency training positions, also known as graduate medical education (GME). According to data collected since 1984, the 2013 Match marked only the second time there were more unmatched U.S. seniors than unfilled positions; the first time was 2010.

“Increasing enrollments show that medical schools are doing their part to avert the shortage of more than 90,000 primary care and specialty doctors this nation faces by 2020. However, this will not result in a single new practicing physician unless Congress acts now to lift the cap on residency training positions,” said Kirch.


The Association of American Medical Colleges is a not-for-profit association dedicated to transforming health care through innovative medical education, cutting-edge patient care, and groundbreaking medical research. Its members comprise all 147 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 more than 80 academic societies. Through these institutions and organizations, the AAMC serves the leaders of America’s medical schools and teaching hospitals and their nearly 160,000 faculty members, 83,000 medical students, and 115,000 resident physicians. Additional information about the AAMC and its member medical schools and teaching hospitals is available at