The nation’s medical schools chalked up another record-setting year of applications and enrollment, while making strides to attract a more-diverse applicant pool, according to figures released on Thursday by the Association of American Medical Colleges.
The association, which has been warning of an impending physician shortage as baby boomers age and an earlier generation of physicians retires, reported that enrollment has climbed 25 percent since 2002, reaching an all-time high of 20,630 students this year.
The total number of applicants for the class that started this fall rose by 6.2 percent, to 52,550, doubling last year’s increase. First-time applicants were up 4.8 percent.
Enrollment by Hispanic students was up 6.9 percent this year, and the number of black students increased by 11.6 percent. Still, the small share of black men remains the most troubling demographic figure, association leaders said in a call with reporters.
“Even with the numbers this year, the average medical class might have two, three, or four black males,” said Darrell G. Kirch, president of the association. “I had three in my graduating class in 1977, and I thought that trend would change over the years.”
Among the efforts underway to attract more-diverse applicants are holistic admissions reviews that consider personal attributes and life experiences, and programs — like one announced on Thursday at Wayne State University — to provide free university and medical-school education to 10 students per year from disadvantaged backgrounds.