Women medical school enrollments surpass men for first time

Females represented more than half of 2017’s enrollees, which might not translate to more health IT leaders yet – but it will mean more women involved in other critical hospital leadership roles.
Women medical school enrollment

More women enrolled in medical school than men for the first time in 2017, according to a new Association of American Medical Colleges report.

There were 21,338 new enrollments in 2017, and 50.7 percent were women – up from 49.8 percent in 2016. The number of new enrollees grew by 1.5 percent, which makes total enrollment at 89,904 students.

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“We are very encouraged by the growing number of women enrolling in U.S. medical schools,” AAMC President and CEO Darrell Kirch, MD, said in a statement. “This year’s matriculating class demonstrates that medicine is an increasingly attractive career for women and that medical schools are creating an inclusive environment.”

The increase in female medical students may not translate into more health IT leaders yet, it will mean more women involved in other crucial leadership roles that interact with hospital IT departments as well as digital health innovation positions. Those include posts commonly held by doctors, such as chief medical information officers, chief health information officers, chief innovation officers, doctorpreneurs, and the staffers they work with. 

Although admissions rose this year, the total number of medical school applicants declined by 2.6 percent from 2016, the biggest drop in 15 years. Male applicants declined significantly faster than female applicants, as well: 4.4 percent compared to 0.7 percent, respectively.

But while this year saw a decline in applicants, the number has increased by more than 50 percent since 2002. And the number of admissions has increased by about 30 percent over the last 15 years.

Further, enrollments continued to diversify this year. Over the last two years, black or African American enrollees increased by 12.6 percent and Hispanic, Latino or those of Spanish origin grew by 15.4 percent.

“While expanding medical school enrollment is a very positive trend, it alone will not lead to an increase in the supply of practicing physicians to address the coming doctor shortage,” Kirch said. “For that to happen, Congress must lift the cap on federal support for medical residency positions it enacted 20 years ago.”

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
Email the writer: jessica.davis@himssmedia.com

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