Lots and Lots of People Still Want to Be Doctors

I get a little annoyed by the seemingly constant public complaints of physicians, coupled with threats to leave medicine and dire warnings that no one will want to be a doctor in the future. This is in spite of it still being one of the most trusted professions around, and one that is darn well compensated. So it’s nice to see that the general public hasn’t bought into this meme yet (from the AAMC 2011 Medical School Enrollment Survey):

  • First-year medical school enrollment in 2016-2017 is projected to reach 21,376. This projection represents a 29.6% increase above first-year enrollment in 2002-2003 and comes close to reaching the 30% targeted increase by 2015 the AAMC called for in 2006.
  • Of the projected 2002-2016 growth, 58% will be at the 125 medical schools that were accredited as of 2002. New schools since 2002 will experience 25% of the growth, and the balance (17%) will come from schools that are currently in LCME applicant- or candidate-school standing.
  • More than half (56%) of the 2002-2016 enrollment growth has already occurred, with 2,850 of the projected 4,888 new slots already in place as of 2011.

We’re facing a physician shortage, and in order to address this, the American Association of Medical Colleges recommended we increase the number of students training to be doctors. They’ve pretty much accomplished that goal. This is in spite of the bad press.

And get a load of this:

Applying to medical school is a grueling, time consuming process that, for many, does not end with acceptance letters. While business schools extended offers, on average, to nearly half of all applicants in 2010, and law schools admitted a rough average of 35 percent of prospects, medical schools accepted a much smaller portion of their applicant pools, according to an analysis of graduate school data reported to U.S. News.

In 2010, 521,876 applications were submitted to the 121 medical schools that reported entrance data to U.S. News. On average, just 8.9 percent of applicants were admitted—and at a handful of schools, the acceptance rates were drastically lower.

I look at numbers like that, and I thank my lucky stars I got in. I’m pretty sure the acceptance rate at my school was even lower.

Regardless of what some say, I don’t think we’ll have any trouble finding bright, dedicated people to become physicians in the near future.

[Cross-posted at The Incidental Economist]