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Doctor Shortage Looms, Even As Med School Applications Go Up

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The AAMC report found greater levels of diversity than in past years amongst medical school applicants.
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The AAMC report found greater levels of diversity than in past years amongst medical school applicants.

More than 45,000 students applied to medical school this year, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. Even so the president of the organization is warning this might not necessarily translate into new doctors.

The three percent increase continues an upward trend in applications. Dr Darrell Kirch is President of the AAMC. He says these students are also more diverse, with record numbers of African-American and Hispanic students applying.

This interest in medicine should be good news, as Kirch says the nation is expected to face a shortage of 90,000 doctors over the next decade. But he says the projected increased enrollment will not translate into a single new doctor to care for patients until Congress agrees to lift a 15-year cap and funds more residency training positions. Kirch says it takes three to seven years of training after medical school to become a practicing physician.

"The very ominous fact that if we don t deal with the freeze of residency positions, we will have a serious national problem," says Kirch.

The 45,000 applicants are competing for approximately 20,000 medical school spots.

Association of American Medical Colleges Enrollment Data 2012
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