Enrollment at U.S. medical schools is on track to reach a targeted growth benchmark by 2016, according to an annual medical school enrollment survey conducted by the Association of American Medical Colleges Center for Workforce Studies.
"U.S. medical schools are doing all that they can to address a serious future physician shortage in this country," says AAMC President and CEO Dr. Darrell G. Kirch. "We're pleased to see that enrollment continues to grow ... but this won't amount to a single new doctor in practice without an expansion of residency positions."
Residency training prepares new doctors for independent practice.
Results of the survey show that first-year medical school enrollment is projected to reach 21,376 in 2016-17, up 29.6 percent increase from first-year enrollment in 2002-03.
Of the projected 2002-2016 growth in medical school enrollment, the survey found that 58 percent will occur in the 125 medical schools that were accredited as of 2002, 25 percent will occur in schools accredited since 2002, and 17 percent will come from schools that are currently applicant or candidate schools, according to the organization's liaison committee on medical education.
With the U.S. facing a shortage of more than 90,000 primary-care and specialty doctors by 2020, based on AAMC estimates, an increase in federal funding to expand the number of residency training positions is essential, the association asserts.
"Otherwise, it may become more difficult for medical students to complete their training and for patients to get the care they needas our population continues to grow and age, more doctors retire, and 32 million Americans enter the health care system as a result of the Affordable Care Act," Kirch says.
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