MedEdits | Medical School Admissions Consulting

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Doctor Shortage: The Need For More Residency Positions

Dr. Darrell Kirch, president of the Association of American Colleges (AAMC), whom I heard speak at the annual AAMC meeting in November 2009, wrote an op ed piece in the Wall Street Journal this past weekend about the need to increase the number of residency positions in the United States to alleviate the looming doctor shortage.

He mentions that US medical schools aim to increase class sizes by 30% to ease this shortage. Something else to consider is the growing number of both Caribbean medical school graduates, most of whom are US citizens, and the traditional international medical graduates who are not US citizens.The potential ramifications of increases in US medical school class sizes as well as of these two other groups of applicants are twofold:

1) The competition to obtain a residency position will become fierce. And in this more competitive environment, programs may not necessarily show a preference for US students. Indeed, with many excellent students now going to Caribbean medical schools, some programs prefer to take international medical graduates.

2) If the increase in the number of US medical school graduates is not accompanied by a parallel increase in the number or residency training positions, many able people, both US citizens and non-US citizens, will be unable to obtain residency positions and therefore can not practice medicine in the US.

The AAMC must collaborate with the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) to ensure that we don't create a bottleneck of residency applicants.

The AAMC also has a great physician workforce resource page. When asked about the problems in health care today on your medical school interview, why not give an answer that is a little different than the rest?

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