As the country faces a 90,000 physician shortage students have stepped up and a record high enrolled in medical school in 2013, according to the AAMC.
The health care industry is undergoing many changes and the future is uncertain, causing some physicians to regret their career choice, retire early or change careers. However, the younger generation isn’t giving up on medicine yet — a record number of students applied to and enrolled in medical schools in 2013, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).
However, strong enrollment numbers won’t necessarily mean a decrease in the country’s physician shortage unless there are more residency training positions available for these students.
“At a time when the nation faces a shortage of more than 90,000 doctors by the end of the decade and millions are gaining access to health insurance, we are very glad that more students than ever want to become physicians,” AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD, said in a statement. “However, unless Congress lifts the 16-year-old cap on federal support for residency training, we will still face a shortfall of physicians across dozens of specialties.”
The total number of medical school applicants increased by 6%. The 48,014 applicants beat the previous record set in 1996. Plus, for the first time, the number of students enrolled in their first year of medical school exceeded 20,000, a 3% increase over 2012.
According to the AAMC, the creation of new medical schools and the efforts of existing schools to expand class sizes attributed to the overall growth in medical students enrollment. This year, 14 schools increased their class sizes by more than 10% and four new schools welcomed their first classes.
The number of men and women applying to and enrolling in medical school remains fairly equal — males accounted for 53%. Nearly three-quarters of applicants reported research experience and two-third reported voluntary community service.
“Students are doing their part by applying to medical school in record numbers,” Kirch said. “Medical schools are doing their part by expanding enrollment. Now Congress needs to do its part and act without delay to expand residency training to ensure that everyone who needs a doctor has access to one.”