Female, male and minority medical school students in a hospital
Female, male and minority medical school students in a hospital
… U.S. Medical School Enrollment Trends Are Changing …

A First In U.S. History: Women Outnumber Men In Medical Schools

Changes in female and minority medical school enrollment signal a new transformation in the physician ranks of the future

John G. Baresky


  • Female and minority enrollment in medical schools are expanding; women medical students outnumber men medical students in the U.S.
  • The average cost of medical school continues to climb
  • More medical schools have opened and average class size is larger
  • Future risk of a significant shortage of U.S. physicians remains
  • Medical school applicants and medical school enrollees transforming based on gender, ethnicity, race

Medical schools reflect growing opportunities in healthcare for women

The Association of American Medical Colleges ( AAMC ) reports that based on its data, more females than males are enrolled as medical students throughout the nation. The margin is narrow but reflects an ongoing trend that has been building over the last several years. This is a breakthrough for women, the medical community, academia and the nation.

AAMC is a champion for better healthcare and healthcare academics

Based in Washington, D.C., AAMC was founded in 1876 and is a non-profit organization. Its members comprise all 154 accredited United States, 17 accredited Canadian medical schools encompassing almost 400 teaching hospitals and health systems, 51 Department of Veterans Affairs ( VA ) medical centers plus over 80 academic medical societies. The AAMC is a healthcare leader dedicated to improving medical education and patient care while driving breakthrough medical research and healthcare innovation.

A positive and growing trend that cleared a medical school enrollment milestone in 2017

Presently, 50.5% of all enrolled medical students are women. This number is built from crossing an earlier landmark threshold during 2017 when for the first time females outnumbered males as first-year medical students.

Kaiser Family Foundation Data

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation ( KFF ) there were 25,955 medical school graduates in 2018. This number includes allopathic medical school graduates and osteopathic medical school graduates. The top 10 states of combined allopathic and osteopathic graduates were:

  • California: 1,477
  • Florida: 1,316
  • Illinois: 1,315
  • Michigan: 1,143
  • Missouri: 922
  • New York: 2,402
  • Ohio: 1,122
  • Pennsylvania: 1,910
  • Texas: 1,735
  • Virginia: 858

Additional information about physician licensing and certifications per State requirements for new or established physicians is available through the Federal of State Medical Boards ( FSMB ).

As an industry, healthcare is becoming more diverse

The medical school academic sector is changing in many other ways. A greater number of minorities are applying and the percentage of them being accepted is on the rise as well.

Data from AAMC reveals a small and steady transformation in healthcare academics and the future healthcare workforce:

  • Native American or Alaska Native applicants increased by 4.8% and their acceptance levels increased by 5.5%
  • Hispanic or Latino applicants grew by 5.1% and those accepted grew 6.3%
  • African American or black applicants rose by 0.6% and those accepted increased by 3.2%
  • For African American or black males, their applicant count grew by .5% and those accepted increased by 3.7%

If current trends continue, the physician workforce of the future will be significantly changed

While women and minorities are presently outnumbered in the physician ranks, the current trends mark an important change from the past norms which is favorable for patients and clinicians moving forward plus employers seeking to achieve EEOC compliance goals.

For persons early in their education and forming ideas about their career aspirations or for those people seeking a change in their existing careers, the prospects of gaining entry into the healthcare industry is greater than ever — including the opportunities for medical doctor roles as long as they can meet the academic rigor ( average GPA of undergraduates admitted to medical school is above 3.7 ) and take on the economic burden medical school costs.

Medical school expense is a daunting challenge but interest in the healthcare profession and physician careers is robust

Based on data from the American Medical Student Association ( AMSA ), the annual cost of attending a public medical school ( complete with tuition, fees, and health insurance included ) is approximately $34,592 for in-state students and $58,668 for out-of-state students.

This cost rises considerably for those attending private institutions. Private medical school tuition, fees and health insurance average over $50,000 annually for in-state or out-of-state enrollees. These figures are based on statistics from 2016–2017; for public and private universities these costs continue to increase.

The sustained and growing interest in healthcare as a career and physician-centered jobs is encouraging. 20 new medical schools have opened in the last ten years and class sizes have been expanded which has resulted in a 33% growth trend that dates back to 2002.

Americans are living longer; will there be enough physicians to care for us all?

Amazingly, the expansion may not be sufficient to meet the healthcare needs of the nation. Thanks to rapidly evolving healthcare knowledge, better techniques and advanced healthcare products as well as a decline in tobacco use, U.S. citizens are living longer. To meet the needs of today and those of future generations, the number of physicians needs to increase as present data indicate a drastic shortfall of up to 122,000 doctors is approaching by the year 2032.

Plenty of physician job openings exist now across the healthcare industry and there is plenty of competition for medical school graduates as they complete their education and transition into the healthcare workforce. This is great news for women, minorities and all other future physicians.

Thank you for reading this story

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