(HealthDay)—Enrollment in U.S. medical colleges is increasing, but there is concern about the adequacy of training opportunities, according to a report published by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).
As part of an ongoing monitoring of enrollment trends, researchers from the AAMC surveyed deans at all accredited U.S. medical schools in the fall.
According to the report, first-year medical school enrollment is projected to reach 21,434 in 2017 to 2018, which represents a 30 percent increase from 2002 to 2003 and matches the target recommended by the AAMC in 2006. The adequacy of clinical training opportunities for students was mentioned as a challenge, with 78 percent of schools expressing concern about the number of clinical training sites for students and most expressing concern about the supply of qualified primary care and specialty preceptors (82 and 67 percent, respectively). Concern was also expressed regarding enrollment outpacing growth in graduate medical education, with 42 percent expressing "major concern" at the national level. More than three-quarters (76 percent) of schools reported having established at least one initiative to increase interest in primary care specialties, including curriculum changes, extracurricular opportunities, and expanded faculty resources and training. Osteopathic enrollment also increased and is projected to reach 6,675 by 2017 to 2018.
"Increasing enrollments show that medical schools are doing their part to avert the shortage of more than 90,000 primary care specialty doctors this nation faces by 2020," Darrell Kirch, M.D., president and chief executive officer of the AAMC, said in a statement. "However, this will not result in a single new practicing physician unless Congress acts now to lift the cap on residency training positions."