Courtesy of Shutterstock
Courtesy of Shutterstock

U.S. medical schools attracted and enrolled a more diverse class in the 2021-22 academic year with Black, Hispanic and female applicants and enrollees all making gains, according to data released on Dec. 8 by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

This year, the number of students applying to medical school also substantially increased, up nearly 18% from last year, to a record 62,443 applicants. 

“It is gratifying to see this growth in the diversity and number of students interested in a career in medicine, particularly during such a unique time in history as a result of the global pandemic and the growing recognition of the effects of health disparities in our country,” said David J. Skorton, M.D., president and CEO of AAMC. 

“For nearly two years, Americans have watched the heroism and dedication of physicians on the front lines. As the nation faces a real and significant projected shortage of physicians, I am inspired by how many individuals want to follow in the footsteps of those before them to serve their communities,” Dr. Skorton said. 

Key data from 2020 to 2021 academic years:

  • Black or African-American first-year students increased by 21.0%, to 2,562. Black or African-American students made up 11.3% of matriculants (first-year students) in 2021, up from 9.5% last year. Of particular note are the increases among Black or African-American men; first-year students from this group increased by 20.8%.
  • First-year Hispanic, Latino, or of Spanish origin increased by 7.1%, to 2,869. Individuals from this group made up 12.7% of matriculants, up from 12.0% in 2020.
  • However, American Indian or Alaska Native first-year students declined by 8.5%, to 227, making up 1.0% of matriculants.

This year, women also continued to make gains, making up 56.8% of applicants, 55.5% of matriculants and 52.7% of total medical school enrollment. 

For the third consecutive year, women made up the majority of these three groups. Conversely, the number of men matriculants declined for the sixth year in a row, according to the AAMC.

“The gains in medical school enrollment of students from underrepresented groups are encouraging but there is still much more work to be done — including increasing the representation of American Indian and Alaska Native communities — to ensure that our nation’s diversity is reflected in the future physician workforce,” said Geoffrey Young, Ph.D., AAMC senior director, transforming healthcare workforce. 

“The AAMC and our member medical schools are deeply committed to significantly increasing the number of applicants and students from underrepresented groups,” he said.

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s...

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