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Kids changing the face of medicine

July 22, 2009 9:44:32 AM PDT
The Council on Physician and Nurse Supply says the United States may lack as many as 200,000 physicians and 800,000 nurses by 2020. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts there will be 212,000 physician openings by 2014 due to growth and net replacement of retiring physicians. That number represents more than 25 percent of the current physician work force. The American Medical Association says that as the U.S. population rose 31 percent between 1980 and 2003, its number of medical school graduates remained static. According to the journal Physicians Practice, many of today's patients are baby boomers who require more therapy and treatment. As the population ages, so does the doctor population. Many of today's doctors are retiring or soon will. The AMA's data state that doctors over the age of 61 and baby boomers (age 42 to 60) make up 67 percent of the existing physician population. Generation X (age 27 to 41) make up only 33 percent of today's practicing physicians.

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.

? For More Information, Contact:

Kelly Brockmeier, Media Relations
Shands Jacksonville
Jacksonville, FL
Kelly.brockmeier@jax.ufl.edu


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