The enrollment at U.S. medical schools has changed very little over the last 10 years, according to an article in the September 7 issue of JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, a theme issue on medical education.
Barbara Barzansky, Ph.D., and Sylvia I. Etzel, of the American Medical Association, Chicago, examined the status of a number of variables related to medical education that represent areas that recently have been in flux or have potential impact on health care delivery. The study compared selected results of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) Annual Medical School Questionnaire between 2004-2005 and 1994-1995. The questionnaire was sent to the deans of all 125 LCME-accredited medical schools. The response rate was 100 percent in both years.
The authors found that the number of medical students in 1994-1995 and in 2004-2005 remained constant, at about 67,000. The number of full-time faculty members increased from 90,016 in 1994-1995 to 119,025 in 2004-2005 (a 32 percent increase). In 2004-2005, 68 percent of all first-year medical students were residents of the state in which the medical school is located and an average of 43 percent of 2005 graduates remained in the same state as the medical school for graduate medical education; results were similar in 1995. In 2004-2005, night call was less common in the family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, and psychiatry clerkships compared with 1994-1995.
"A number of factors may have contributed to this increase [in faculty size]. Some disciplines, such as genetics and emergency medicine, increased well beyond the average, perhaps indicating a newly-defined need for this expertise for patient care or research. In addition, during 2002-2003 medical schools derived 35.9 percent of their total revenue from faculty practice and 32.6 percent from grants and contracts (including direct and facilities/administrative costs). Maintaining these revenue streams requires considerable faculty effort and has provided some of the impetus to increase the size of the faculty," the authors write.
"Many of the variables that we have examined, including faculty size and the geographic pipeline into medical school and residency training, may be affected by factors external to the medical school. Understanding these interrelationships will be critical in addressing important issues in medical education and health care today and in the future," the authors conclude.