This report examines first-year medical school enrollment over the past decade and projects first-year enrollment through 2025. The goal is to inform the academic medicine community, researchers, and policymakers about trends and issues related to U.S. medical school enrollment.The report is based on the 12th annual AAMC Survey of Medical School Enrollment Plans. Each fall, the survey is sent to deans at all MD-granting U.S. medical schools with preliminary accreditation or higher. This most recent survey was conducted between September 2015 and January 2016.
Key findings include:
• Medical school enrollment has grown 25 percent since 2002–2003, and 30 percent growth should be achieved by 2017–2018.
In 2006, in response to concerns of a likely future physician shortage, the AAMC recommended a 30 percent increase in first-year medical school enrollment by the 2015–2016 academic year (over 2002–2003 levels).
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. The survey results indicate that the 30 percent goal will likely be attained by 2017–2018. Enrollment growth could be accelerated if any of the seven applicant or candidate schools in the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) pipeline attains preliminary accreditation.
• Schools are increasingly concerned about the availability of graduate medical education opportunities for their incoming students.
Medical schools reported concern about enrollment growth outpacing growth in graduate medical education (GME). Half of medical schools reported concerns about their own incoming students' ability to find residency positions of their choice after medical school, up from 35 percent in 2012. Concern about GME availability at the state and national levels declined somewhat since 2013, yet it still remained high.
• There has been a large increase in the percentage of schools experiencing competition for clinical training sites from DO-granting schools and other health care professional programs.
In 2015, 85 percent of respondents expressed concern about the number of clinical training sites and the supply of qualified primary care preceptors. Seventy-two percent expressed concern about the supply of qualified specialty preceptors. There has been a large increase in the percentage of schools experiencing competition from DO-granting schools and other health care professional programs, from about a quarter of schools in 2009 to more than half of schools in 2015. Forty-four percent of respondents reported feeling pressure to pay for clinical training slots, though the majority of schools currently do not pay for clinical training.
• Schools are dedicated to increasing diversity in their student body and increasing student interest in caring for underserved populations.
Most respondents (84 percent) indicated that they had (or were planning to have within two years) specific admission programs or policies designed to recruit a diverse student body interested in caring for underserved populations. The majority of respondents had established or expected programs/policies geared toward minorities underrepresented in medicine, students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and students from rural and underserved communities. Schools reported a variety of approaches, with a focus on outreach at high schools and local four-year universities and admission strategies such as holistic review.
• Enrollment increases at DO-granting schools continue to accelerate. First-year enrollment at DO-granting schools in 2020–2021 is expected to reach 8,468, a 185 percent increase from 2,968 students in 2002–2003. Combined first-year enrollment at existing MD-granting and DO-granting medical schools is projected to reach 30,186 by 2020–2021, an increase of 55 percent compared with 2002–2003.