Nov. 7, 2003 -- Female doctors may soon outnumber their male counterparts if current trends hold up.
For the first time, the number of women who applied to the nation's medical schools has outnumbered men. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, 17,672 women applied to attend medical school in the 2003-2004 school year, compared with 17,113 men.
The overall number of medical school applications also rose this year after a six-year decline.
Researchers say the main reason for the increase was a 7% rise in female applicants. The number of men applying to medical school has been declining in recent years, but this year's figure was roughly the same as last year's.
Other highlights of the 2003-2004 medical school applicant pool compared with last year include:
- The number of black applicants rose by almost 5% to 2,736, but the number of blacks who entered medical school declined by 6% to 1,056.
- Hispanic applicants increased by less than 2% to 2,483, but the number that entered medical school declined by almost 4% to 1,089.
- First-time applications to medical school increased by 5%.
"These latest figures contain both good and bad news for the medical profession. The decrease in minorities entering medical school underscores the need for redoubled efforts to attract a critical mass of students from diverse backgrounds in order to enhance the education of all future physicians," says Jordan J. Cohen, MD, president of the association, which represents the 126 accredited U.S. medical schools, in a news release.
"At the same time, the increase in total and first-time applicants is a reaffirming sign that the current generation of young people recognizes the attractiveness of medicine as a profession," says Cohen.
After peaking at 47,000 in 1996, the number of medical school applications steadily dropped over the next six years and reached its lowest point last year at 33,625.
SOURCE: News release, Association of American Medical Colleges.