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Medical School Enrollment Continues to Expand

Number of residency slots also needs to increase to meet future demand for physicians

MONDAY, Oct. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Almost 18,400 students enrolled in medical school in the United States in 2009, a 2 percent increase over the previous year, but even more expansion is needed to meet future demand, according to an Oct. 20 report from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

The number of applicants this year, 42,269, was similar to last year's 42,231, with male applicants continuing to outnumber females, at 22,014 and 20,252, respectively. There was a 4 percent increase in the number of African-Americans, while there was a 1 percent drop in the number of Hispanic/Latino applicants, the report revealed.

Half of the enrollment increase in 2009 was due to the opening of four new medical schools, namely Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, The Commonwealth Medical College, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, and the University of Central Florida College of Medicine. In addition, 12 other schools expanded their class size by 7 percent or more this year.

"The nation's medical schools are working hard to meet the growing demand for more physicians by boosting their enrollment," Darrell G. Kirch, M.D., president and chief executive officer of AAMC, said in a statement. "But we must also increase the number of residency training slots to prevent a bottleneck in the pipeline of new physicians, and ensure access to care for the millions of Americans who hopefully will attain coverage under health care reform."

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