For the first time, the number of women enrolling in U.S. medical schools has exceeded the number of men, according to data released by the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Females represented 50.7 percent of the 21,338 matriculants (new enrollees) in 2017, compared with 49.8 percent in 2016. Female matriculants increased by 3.2 percent in 2017 year, while male matriculants declined by 0.3 percent. Since 2015, the number of female matriculants has grown by 9.6 percent, while the number of male matriculants has declined by 2.3 percent.
Overall, the number of matriculants in U.S. medical schools rose by 1.5 percent this year, and total enrollment stands at 89,904 students.
In contrast, the number of applicants to medical school declined by 2.6 percent from 2016. Although this is the largest decrease in 15 years, it is not the first, reports AAMC. Previous declines occurred in 2002 and 2008. As with matriculants, there was a significant difference by sex: The number of female applicants declined by 0.7 percent, while male applicants fell 4.4 percent. Since 2015, the number of female applicants has increased by 4.0 percent, while the number of male applicants has declined 6.7 percent. While the majority of matriculants this year were female, males remained a slight majority (50.4 percent) of applicants.
Despite this year’s decline, the overall number of medical school applicants has increased more than 50 percent since 2002, and the number of matriculants has grown by nearly 30 percent over the last 15 years, reports AAMC. Twenty-two new medical schools have opened since 2007, including two in the past year, at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and Washington State University. Among matriculants in 2017, 8.7 percent attend one of these 22 schools.
Entering classes at the nation’s medical schools continue to diversify. From 2015 to 2017, black or African American matriculants increased by 12.6 percent, and matriculants who were Hispanic, Latino, or of Spanish origin rose by 15.4 percent.
“This year’s matriculating class demonstrates that medicine is an increasingly attractive career for women and that medical schools are creating an inclusive environment,” Darrell G. Kirch, MD, AAMC president and CEO, was quoted as saying. “While we have much more work to do to attain broader diversity among our students, faculty, and leadership, this is a notable milestone.”
Additionally, an AAMC annual survey of matriculating medical students found:
- More students indicated that having a work-life balance rather than a “stable, secure future” or the “ability to pay off debt” was an “essential consideration” in their career paths after medical school.
- Nearly 30 percent of new medical students indicated plans to eventually work in an underserved area.
Want to learn more about tomorrow’s doctors? You can see the AAMC annual survey results at https://www.aamc.org/download/485324/data/msq2017report.pdf