More physicians in graduate medical school than ever

There are more physicians in graduate medical school than ever, around 100,000, according to an article in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Sarah E. Brotherton, Ph.D., and colleagues from the American Medical Association, Chicago, analyzed data from the National GME (Graduate Medical Education) Census, a survey jointly administered by the American Medical Association and Association of American Medical Colleges on 8,192 residency programs. These specialty and subspecialty programs were surveyed about active, transferred, and graduated residents.

In the 2003 - 2004 academic year, there were 99,964 active medical residents, the highest number ever recorded by the National GME Census. The survey also noted the greatest number of residents entering U.S. medical education programs for the first time (n = 22,444). In 2003, there were 29,745 medical school graduates, compared to 28,773 in 1999. Of the 2003 graduates, 11,681 (39.3 percent) were women, a 10.8 percent increase from 1999.

From 1998-1999 to 2003-2004, several specialties experienced a decrease in male graduates, while the number of female graduates increased. Male graduates of obstetrics/gynecology decreased by 31.3 percent, while female graduates increased by 18.2 percent. Dermatology, family medicine, internal medicine, ophthalmology, pathology, psychiatry, and general surgery showed a similar shift. The authors also noted that the number of subspecialty programs had increased by 13 percent over the past six years, from 3,561 to 4,023.

In 2003, 50.7 percent of programs provided opportunities to develop cultural competence, in order for physicians to improve their ability to communicate better with patients with various cultural backgrounds; 35.7 percent of programs provided such options in 2000. Despite this expansion, the proportion of programs offering instruction in non-English languages has decreased by 12 percent.

"Nearly 100,000 resident physicians are currently training in GME programs in the United States. Mirroring an increasingly complex health delivery system, they appear to be pursing longer educational pathways and differentiating into a more specialized medical workforce," the authors state.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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