More Women Apply to Medical School, But Minority Enrollees Continue to Decline
After a six-year decline, the number of applicants to U.S. medical schools is on the rise, according to data released last month by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The increase is primarily due to the rise in the number of women applicants — 17,672 — an almost 7 percent increase over last year’s total. And although the number of minority applicants has increased, the number of minorities actually enrolling in medical school has declined.
Almost 35,000 individuals applied to attend medical school in the 2003-2004 school year, a 3.4 percent increase over last year’s applicant pool of 33,625. The sharp decline of males applying to medical schools, a trend that started in 1997, leveled off this year. Male applicants totaled 17,113, about the same as last year’s figure of 17,069.
However, for the very first time, women made up the majority of medical school applicants. Black women applicants increased by almost 10 percent to 1,904. Overall, the number of Black applicants rose almost 5 percent to 2,736, but the number of Blacks who entered medical school declined by 6 percent to 1,056. Meanwhile, Hispanic applicants increased by less than 2 percent to 2,483, while the number who entered medical school declined by almost 4 percent to 1,089.
“These latest figures contain both good and bad news for the medical profession. The decrease in minorities entering medical school underscores the need for redoubled efforts to attract a critical mass of students from diverse backgrounds in order to enhance the education of all future physicians,” says Dr. Jordan J. Cohen, president of AAMC. “At the same time, the increase in total and first-time applicants is a reaffirming sign that the current generation of young people recognize the attractiveness of medicine as a profession.”
Among the applicant pool were 26,160 individuals applying for the first time to medical school, an increase of 5 percent over last year, constituting evidence that the previous decline has ended. AAMC says this rebound is likely to continue in the 2004-2005 school year based on the number of applications submitted to its centralized application service. Applications submitted to date through AAMC’s American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) are up approximately 5 percent compared to this time last year. Currently, 117 medical school programs participate in AMCAS.
Since 1996, when the number of individuals applying to medical school peaked at 47,000, the total number of medical school applicants has steadily dropped between 1,000 to 4,000 applicants in each subsequent year. This six-year trend reached its lowest point with last year’s total of 33,625 applicants.
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