US medical schools report increases in faculty members and in women applicants

August 31, 2004

A survey of U.S. medical schools shows that the number of full time faculty members has increased, the number of enrolled students has remained steady, and approximately half of applicants and entering students are women, according to an article in the September 1 issue of JAMA.

Barbara Barzansky, Ph.D., and Sylvia I. Etzel, of the American Medical Association, Chicago, examined data from the 2003 - 2004 Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) Annual Medical School Questionnaire and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Directory of American Medical Education. The LCME questionnaire was sent to the deans of the 126 LCME-accredited medical schools, with a 100 percent response rate.

The LCME questionnaire recorded a 4.6 percent increase in the number of full-time medical school faculty members, from 109,526 in 2002 - 2003, to 114,549 in 2003 - 2004. Forty-eight percent of medical school deans stated they held an additional academic title, such as vice president or president. Deans also showed a high turnover rate, with only 41 of 125 in the same position in the fall of 2004 as five years prior.

For the 2003 entering class, the number of U.S. medical school applicants increased by 3.5 percent from the previous year, to 34,786, the first increase since 1996. Of all the applicants to U.S. medical schools in 2003, 51 percent were women, marking the first time that they were the majority of applicants. For the 2003 - 2004 academic year, the enrollment in U.S. medical schools was 67,166 students, 47.9 percent (n = 32,146) of which were women. Of the 15,996 individuals projected to graduate in 2004, 45.9 percent were women.
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The authors also reported on the introduction of a clinical skills test as part of the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) sequence. The test assesses a medical student's ability to elicit critical patient history information, execute physical examinations, record a patient note, and create plans for additional evaluation. As of spring 2004, 46 percent of medical schools (n = 58) had decided to require passage of the examination for 2005 graduates. (JAMA. 2004; 292: 1025-1031. Available post-embargo at JAMA.com)

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