First Time Medical School Applicants Hits All Time High In Rough Economy

by Dr Sam Girgis on October 25, 2011

Source: Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)

When the economy is not performing well, there are fewer employment opportunities available to graduating college seniors.  As a result, many seniors choose to apply to graduate school, law school, and medical school.  When I applied to medical school during the 1996-1997 application cycle year, the total number of applicants to medical school had reached an all time high of 46,965 applicants (both first time applicants and re-applicants).  This is depicted in the figure above as the peak of the purple part of the graph.  If I remember correctly, the economy was performing badly and we were in a bear market climate at the time.  This probably had something to do with the extraordinarily high total number of applicants to medical school for that year.  This medical school application year has also established a new record.  The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has released data showing that the number of first time applicants to medical school has reached an all time high in 2011 to a total of 32,654 first time applicants.  This is a 2.6% increase over last year’s number of first time applicants to medical school.  The total number of applicants (first time applicants and re-applicants) rose by 2.8% to 43,919 over last year’s number.  The AAMC news release stated that, “Even with greater numbers of applicants, medical schools continue to attract well-qualified individuals. The overall academic credentials of applicants remained strong, with an average GPA of 3.5 and an MCAT exam score of 29.  In addition, the majority of applicants reported slightly increased rates of premedical experiences in community service and medical research, with 82.5 percent reporting community service experience in medical and clinical settings, 68.4 percent in nonclinical community service, and 73 percent reporting experience in research”.  Total enrollment in medical school has increased by 3% over the 2010 statistics with 19,230 students entering into the 2011 freshman class.  In 2006, the AAMC set a goal of 30 percent increase in the enrollment of medical school students to overcome a projected physician shortage in future years.  With the sluggish economy and these numbers, it seems that this goal will be reached.


Reference and Image Credit:  Association of American Medical Colleges

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