Med­i­cal school en­roll­ment grows while res­i­dency slots re­main tight

Modern Healthcare - - BY THE NUMBERS - By Michael San­dler

Med­i­cal schools around the coun­try have ex­pe­ri­enced an en­roll­ment bump this decade, but those in­creases could be off­set by a short­age of res­i­dency po­si­tions, ex­perts say.

Al­lo­pathic med­i­cal schools have seen growth since 2010, with 85,260 stu­dents en­rolled in 2014, a 2.2% in­crease over 2013 and an 8.3% in­crease over 2010. En­roll­ment at os­teo­pathic med­i­cal schools is up, too, with a 6.5% in­crease in 2014 over 2013 and a 26.4% jump over 2010.

But med­i­cal school grad­u­ates are find­ing fewer res­i­dency op­por­tu­ni­ties. Fed­eral bud­get cuts have led to res­i­dency slots grow­ing at a rate of un­der 1% a year, said Dr. Atul Grover, chief public pol­icy of­fi­cer at the As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­i­can Med­i­cal Col­leges. The Bal­anced Bud­get Act of 1997 placed a limit on the num­ber of Medi­care-sup­ported res­i­dency slots. With­out greater Medi­care fund­ing to train res­i­dents, the physi­cian short­age could reach 90,000 by 2025, he said.

“We got en­roll­ment num­bers up, now we need to en­sure that there are res­i­dency spots,” he said.

Com­pli­cat­ing mat­ters is the bulge of baby boomer physi­cians pre­par­ing to re­tire and not enough new doc­tors to re­place them, said Dr. Stephen Shan­non, CEO of the Amer­i­can As­so­ci­a­tion of Col­leges of Os­teo­pathic Medicine. Be­cause the num­ber prac­tic­ing is lim­ited by the num­ber of train­ing slots, the short­age will get worse, he said.

“Res­i­dency is where the bot­tle­neck is,” he said.

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