Getting an MD is more challenging than ever: The numbers tell the story

Getting an MD is more challenging than ever: The numbers tell the story

Navigate the evolving trends and insights behind the increased difficulty of obtaining a medical degree.

Getting into medical school has always been a challenge. But there is growing data to suggest that it is more difficult than ever.

While class sizes at U.S. medical schools have grown in recent years—and new schools have opened—it has not been enough to keep pace with the increase in the number of applicants.

According to a recent U.S. News and World Report (citing data from the Association of American Medical Colleges–AAMC) between 2006 and 2016, the number of applicants to U.S. medical schools increased by more than 35 percent, rising from 39,108 to 53,042.

The competition is particularly strong in primary care programs: the average number of applicants at the top 10 primary care programs more than doubled between 2006 and 2016: from 3,273 applicants for the class entering in 2006 to 7,175 applicants for the class entering in 2016. Because available seats did not grow by nearly that amount, the acceptance rate fell from 8.8 percent to 4.6 percent.

There are not only more people seeking to become physicians, each applicant is applying to more schools: the typical applicant in 2016-17 sent in 16 applications resulting in a whopping 830,016 submissions. While the AAMC data is for U.S. schools, the situation in Canada is similar.

The increasingly intense competition for medical school seats at allopathic institutions is a key reason why a few select international schools such as Medical University of the Americas, which have secured the full set of U.S. approvals and accreditations (and are approved to participate in U.S. Federal Student Aid program) are an attractive option.

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