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Medical School Enrollment to Approach 30 Percent Increase by 2019

Washington, D.C., April 30, 2015—U.S. medical schools are on target to reach a nearly 30 percent increase in enrollment by 2019, according to results of the annual Medical School Enrollment Survey conducted by the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges).

“With the United States facing a shortage of up to 90,000 physicians by 2025, we are pleased to see our nation’s medical schools increasing enrollment, both through the expansion of existing medical schools and the establishment of new ones,” said AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD. “However, without an increase in federally funded residency training positions, all these new medical school graduates may not be able to complete their training and become practicing physicians.”

The results of the survey by the AAMC Center for Workforce Studies were released during the center’s 11th Annual Health Workforce Research Conference. The report shows that first-year medical school enrollment in 2019–20 will reach 21,304—a 29.2 percent increase over the baseline enrollment level in 2002–03 and only 130 positions shy of the 30 percent target. This puts projections on track to meet enrollment increases that the AAMC called for in 2006 to address a projected physician shortage.

According to the survey, two-thirds of the enrollment growth will be achieved by the 125 medical schools that were accredited as of 2002 if medical schools realize current enrollment projections for 2019. Newly accredited schools since 2002 will provide the remaining one-third of the growth. Enrollment growth would be accelerated if any of the nine applicant schools in the Liaison Committee on Medical Education pipeline achieves preliminary accreditation. The majority (62 percent) of the projected growth in enrollment by 2019 is expected to come from public medical schools, with the greatest growth (43 percent) occurring in the Southern region.

The percent of medical schools (72 percent) that reported they had or were planning at least one educational initiative to increase student interest in primary care specialties rose from 49 percent in 2009 to 75 percent in 2010, and has remained above 70 percent in later surveys, according to this year’s report.

The survey also found that medical school deans expressed concern over two main issues: the number of clinical training opportunities for medical students and the impact of enrollment growth on residency opportunities. In 2014, 87 percent of deans said they were alarmed by the number of clinical training sites and the supply of qualified primary care preceptors. Similarly, 71 percent of schools reported “major or moderate concern” in their state about enrollment growth outpacing growth in graduate medical education.

“Congress must act now to lift the cap on residency training positions so that we can train more doctors each year to meet the health care needs of our nation’s growing and aging population,” said Dr. Kirch.

To download the complete results of the 2014 Medical School Enrollment Survey, click here.


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

Press Contact
Brooke Bergen, AAMC