(HealthDay)—The number and diversity of students applying to and enrolling in medical schools in the United States increased this year, new data shows.
The findings are good news as the nation faces a shortage of 90,000 doctors over the next decade, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
The figures show that 45,266 students applied to attend medical school in 2012, an increase of 3.1 percent. First-time applicants increased by 3.4 percent this year, for a total of 33,772. First-time enrollment at medical schools increased by 1.5 percent, to 19,517, which is an all-time high.
There was also an increase in the number of applicants and enrollees from all major racial/ethnic groups. A record number of black (3,824) and Hispanic (3,701) students applied to medical school and both groups also had record levels of enrollment at 1,416 and 1,731, respectively.
After downturns in applicants and enrollees in 2011, the number of American Indian and Alaska Native applicants increased 13.5 percent to 430 and the enrollment rose 17.2 percent to 184 this year.
Among the other findings:
- The number of men applying to and enrolling in medical school increased across all racial/ethnic groups, while the number of women applicants and enrollees remained about the same.
- Asian applicants increased by 5.6 percent and enrollees by 5 percent.
- At the current pace, medical schools are on track to increase enrollment 30 percent by 2016.
"Medicine continues to be a very attractive career choice for our nation's best and brightest," Dr. Darrell Kirch, AAMC president and CEO, said in an association news release. "Given the urgent need our nation has for more doctors to care for our growing and aging population, we are extremely pleased with the continued growth in size and diversity of this year's entering class of medical students."
The American Medical Association has more about medical school.