Med school applications up for U, nation

Despite the increase, the numbers of applicants have not returned to mid-1990s levels.

Geoffrey Ziezulewicz

Applications to U.S. medical schools – including the University’s – are on the rise for the first time since 1996.

According to a study released Nov. 4 by the Association of American Medical Colleges reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the applicant pool rose 3.4 percent nationwide in 2003.

Dr. Marilyn Becker, admissions director for the University’s Medical School, said the number of University applications also climbed but not to where it was in 1994.

According to admissions data provided by the University, the Medical School saw a 17 percent increase in its 2003 applicants. In 2003, 1,987 students applied to the medical school, up from 1,645 in 2002.

However, application numbers in 2003 were 38 percent less than in 1994. With 3,203 applicants, 1994 was the decade’s largest number of applicants in a year.

Nationally, the number of medical school applicants rose steadily through the first half of the 1990s, peaking at almost 47,000 applicants in 1996. After hitting a 10-year low in 2002, medical school applications increased to 34,785 in 2003, according to the report.

Officials do not completely understand all factors behind the ebb and flow of medical school applications both locally and nationwide, Becker said.

Some think applications drop during times of economic prosperity, she said. The expansion of technology-related careers in 1990s might also have lured some away from medicine.

Changes in medicine during the 1990s might also have contributed to the drop, Becker said.

Managed care and a perception of decreased physician autonomy transformed medicine in the 1990s, she said. These factors might have discouraged some people from applying.

Becker said the University’s Medical School expects its admissions numbers to continue increasing.

The low application rate does not reflect on the educational state of the University’s Medical School or medical schools nationwide, Becker said.

According to University data, even when the University saw a 10-year low in applicants in 2002, 166 students were admitted from 1,645 applicants.

“The bottom line is that we consistently have a highly qualified applicant pool and more qualified students in the class,” Becker said.