Five Secrets Medical Schools are Keeping

Medical schools are looking to increase enrollment to meet the projected physician shortage in the U.S., and there are some secrets they're keeping that might deter some students from joining the medical field.

Medical schools are increasing enrollment, hoping to bring in more students and graduate more (sometimes even with shortened, three-year curriculums), and yet, still the U.S. is facing a physician shortage.

With enrollment up 17% since 2002, the increasing influx of medical students might want to get the down and dirty on what they can expect over the next few years of schooling. But medical schools are keeping secrets, according to Market Watch.

Given that the U.S. is trying to address a projected shortage of 90,000 physicians, medical schools might not want prospective students know the following things.

Here are five secrets from Market Watch’s list of things medical schools won’t tell students.

5. Medicine isn’t a prescription for riches

Once upon a time, students went into medicine for the money — and to help people, but money was also a good incentive. However, given the push to cut down on health care costs, experts are trying to find more cost-efficient ways to deliver medicine, which translates to changing pay structures for physicians.

Things can get worse too. Congress is prepared to let Medicare spending cuts go through, which will probably mean more payment cuts, plus jobs lost.

4. Indebtedness is a plague among doctors

In addition to payment changes, health care providers often have large amounts of debt from their schooling. According to the American Academy of Medical Schools (AAMC), 33% of 2011 graduates had at least $200,000 in undergraduate and medical school debt, which was up from only 27% in 2008. The average student loan debt load for all consumers under the age of 30 is about $20,000.

Luckily, the government is offering some help. There’s a loan forgiveness program that some may be eligible for, and there are loans available for students choosing to become primary care physicians and work some time in underserved areas.

3. Good luck getting a residency

Getting into medical school isn’t easy, but just getting in is only half of the battle. As it is, there are more graduates than open residency positions (95% were matched in March, 2012), and the gap between open residencies and graduates will only widen as enrollment increases, but the number of positions stays the same.

A newly proposed bill would increase the number of Medicare-supported residency training positions by 15,000.

2. People skills

Medical schools aren’t looking for the next Dr. House — a very smart, but socially abrasive individual. In addition to top-notch MCAT scores, students will now undergo a personality test since communication is being promoted more and more as a way to prevent mistakes and thus save money.

1. Bullying, teaching

The mistreatment students receive throughout their medical school careers is a long-standing tradition. Between 1996 and 2008 more than half of students reported some form of mistreatment, according to a study by the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

An AAMC study revealed that 33% of students said they were publicly humiliated at least once, 15% were the object of sexist remarks and 9% were required to run errands for doctors.

As the medical school population grows schools are looking to crackdown even more on doctors pushing around their young protégés, yelling at them or calling them derogatory names. Until then medical students better have thick skin.

What do you wish you had known about medical school before you went? Let us know in the comments!

See Market Watch’s full list here.