New data show the majority of U.S. medical students are women

Women comprise the majority of enrolled U.S. medical students for the first time, according to 2019 data released today by the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges). This progress builds on the milestone reached in 2017, when, for the first time, women comprised the majority of first-year medical students.

The proportion of women students has been rising over recent years, from 46.9 percent in 2015 to 49.5 percent in 2018. In 2019, women comprise 50.5 percent of all medical school students.

The number of applicants to medical schools rose by 1.1 percent from 2018 to 2019, to a record 53,371, and the number of matriculants (new enrollees) grew by 1.1 percent, to 21,869. Across applicants and matriculants, the number of women increased while the number of men declined.

The 2019 data also show that the nation’s medical schools continue to make modest gains in attracting and enrolling more racially and ethnically diverse classes, although these groups remain underrepresented in the overall physician workforce.

·        Applicants who are Hispanic, Latino, or of Spanish origin increased 5.1 percent, to 5,858, and matriculants from this group grew 6.3 percent, to 2,466.

·         The number of black or African American applicants rose 0.6 percent, to 5,193, and matriculants increased by 3.2 percent, to 1,916. Among black or African American men, applicants and matriculants increased 0.5 percent, and the total enrollment of black or African American men rose 3.7 percent, to 3,189.

·         American Indian or Alaska Native applicants grew by 4.8 percent, to 586, and matriculants rose 5.5 percent, to 230.

“The steady gains in the medical school enrollment of women are a very positive trend, and we are delighted to see this progress,” said David J. Skorton, MD, AAMC president and CEO. “However, the modest increases in enrollment among underrepresented groups are simply not enough. We cannot accept this as the status quo and must do more to educate and train a more diverse physician workforce to care for a more diverse America.”

The continued growth in the number of applicants to U.S. medical schools demonstrates that interest in a career in medicine remains high, which is crucial as the nation faces a projected shortage of up to 122,000 physicians by 2032. To address this shortage, medical schools have expanded class sizes, 20 new schools have opened in the past decade, and the total number of enrolled medical students has grown by 33 percent since 2002.

But to increase the overall supply of U.S. physicians to meet the needs of America’s growing and aging population, Congress must increase the number of federally funded residency training positions. The AAMC supports bipartisan legislation that would add 15,000 residency slots over five years to ensure that all patients have access to the care they need.

As in previous years, medical school enrollees in 2019 had strong academic credentials, with an average undergraduate GPA of 3.78. Enrollees range in age from 15 to 53, and 131 are military veterans. Additionally, this year’s entering class demonstrates a strong commitment to service, cumulatively performing more than 14 million community service hours.

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