Med School Enrollment Growth is a Double-Edged Sword

Medical school enrollment may be increasing too fast for the health industry to handle. While the Association of American Medical Colleges called for enrollment to increase 30% to address the physician shortage, the growth in enrollment is outpacing open residency positions.

Medical school enrollment may be increasing too fast for the health industry to handle. According to new data from the Association of American Medical Colleges, enrollment should increase 30% by 2017

good news to address the physician shortage, but enrollment is outpacing open residency positions.

The baseline year used to calculate enrollment increases is 2002-2003, which AAMC named back in 2006 when the organization first called for a 30% increase in enrollment.

“We’re pleased to see our nation’s medical schools increasing enrollment to address the projected physician shortage,” AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD, said in a statement. “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 AAMC, 7% of the projected growth in medical school enrollment will come from schools that are currently applicant or candidate schools to become accredited. The greatest growth will occur in the South, which will account of 46% of the increase between 2002 and 2017.

However, reaching the enrollment growth goal isn’t enough for the medical industry. AAMC reported that 40% of medical school deans surveyed are concerned that the growth in enrollment is outpacing the growth of available residency training positions. As a result, there were more unmatched U.S. seniors than unfilled positions in 2013.

“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,” said Kirch. “However, this will not result in a single new practicing physician unless Congress acts now to lift the cap on residency training positions.”