The number of students entering medical school this fall–17,759–is the largest ever, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
While that number represents only a 2.3% increase from the previous year, there was an 8% increase in applicants, with 42,300 seeking to enter medical school in 2007. It was the fourth consecutive year in which the number of applicants was on the rise, after a 6-year decline.
In a briefing with reporters, AAMC President Darrell G. Kirch said that the continuing increase in applicants and enrollees shows “that the interest in medicine runs very strong in our country.”
Applicants and enrollees are more diverse than ever, according to the AAMC. While the number of applicants who identified themselves as white or white combined with another ethnicity–26,916–still dwarfs other races, there was an increase in the number of minority applicants. There were 2,999 applicants who identified themselves as Latino or Hispanic alone or in combination with another race, 3,471 African American/combination applicants, and 9,225 Asian/combination applicants.
The number of black and Hispanic male applicants rose by 9.2%, which was larger than the growth of the overall applicant pool. Black male acceptance and enrollment increased by 5.3%, and Hispanic male acceptance remained even with 2006 levels.
There was a near-even split among men and women applicants and enrollees.
The rise in applicants and enrollment represents some light at the end of the tunnel, he said. The AAMC and others have warned of looming physician shortages. Estimates range from 55,000 to 90,000 physicians across all specialties by 2020.