INCREASING ENROLLMENT: U.S. medical schools continue to expand their enrollment to meet the country's increasing demand for physicians. First-year enrollment at the nation's medical schools increased in 2008 by nearly 2 percent over the previous year, to more than 18,000 students -- the highest enrollment in history. "In a time of great economic uncertainty, interest in the healing profession of medicine remains stable," Darrell Kirch, M.D., the Association of American Medical Colleges President and CEO, was quoted as saying. "As medical schools expand to meet the nation's demand for more doctors, there will be even more opportunities for the most qualified and well-rounded aspiring doctors to pursue rewarding careers in medicine."
However, while enrollment reached record highs, the number of applicants has leveled off. The number of first-time applicants decreased by 3 percent in 2008, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. Latinos boosted their presence in the applicant pool, with a 3 percent increase over 2007. There was a decrease in the number of applicants from other minority groups underrepresented in medicine, particularly African Americans (4 percent decrease) and Native Americans (3 percent decrease). Women comprised more than 48 percent of the applicants to medical schools in 2008, which was down slightly from 2007.
HIGH SCHOOL OPPORTUNITIES: Many teaching hospitals have opportunities for high school students to learn alongside professionals through internships and shadowing programs. The Summer Internship Program at the NIH provides an opportunity to spend the summer working side-by-side with the leading scientists in an environment devoted to biomedical research. Students ages 16 years and older are eligible to get a head start on their medical career.
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Kelly Brockmeier, Media Relations