Enrollment in US medical schools has grown by 31% since 2002, and, combined with increases in enrollment at schools of osteopathic medicine, overall medical student enrollment is now 52% higher than in 2002, according to the results of an annual survey released by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).
The AAMC called for a 30% increase in medical student enrollment in 2006 as a response to concerns about a future physician shortage. Since then, expansion has occurred through increases in class sizes at existing medical schools and the creation of new medical schools. Twenty-nine new accredited medical schools have opened, along with 17 new schools of osteopathic medicine, since 2002.
Findings from the report, Results of the 2018 Medical School Enrollment Survey, indicate that as of the 2018-19 academic year, first-year enrollment in US medical schools had increased to 21,622 students, and first-year enrollment at schools of osteopathic medicine was 8,124 students.
A shortage of up to 122,000 physicians is projected by 2032, including up to 55,000 in primary care and 66,000 in other specialties.
To increase the supply of doctors in the United States, the AAMC supports a multipronged approach that includes passage of bipartisan legislation that would provide a modest but critical increase in the number of federally supported graduate medical education positions.
Because medical school graduates must undergo additional training in a residency program in order to practice medicine, expansion of medical school enrollments alone will not ensure the nation has enough doctors. For more than 20 years, the number of federally supported residency training slots has been capped by Congress. As a result, the number of residency positions has risen only 1% a year, far lower than enrollment growth.