For the first time ever recorded, more women are attending U.S. medical schools than men, according to new data from the Association of American Medical Colleges.
In 2017, females represented 50.7 percent of the 21,338 new enrollees, compared to 49.8 percent in 2016. It's the latest development in an ongoing trend: more women are enrolling in medical school as mens' enrollment declines.
In fact, since 2015, the number of female enrollees has jumped nearly 10 percent as the persentage of male enrollees has dropped by about 2.3 percent, the AAMC said in a news release. There are a total of about 89,000 total current medical students in the U.S., the AAMC said.
“We are very encouraged by the growing number of women enrolling in U.S. medical schools,” said Darrell G. Kirch, MD, AAMC president and CEO in the release.
“This year’s matriculating class demonstrates that medicine is an increasingly attractive career for women and that medical schools are creating an inclusive environment. While we have much more work to do to attain broader diversity among our students, faculty, and leadership, this is a notable milestone.”
While the number of matriculants (students who actually enroll in medical school) was predominantly female this year, the total number of applicants was still 50.4 percent male, the AAMC reported.
Atlanta public radio station WABE asked several Georgia medical schools what their numbers looked like. At Emory, 57 percent of the class is female, the station found. At Morehouse, it's 56 percent.
“We have tended to have a class of 60-some percent women over the past two decades,” Martha Elks, M.D., Ph.D., senior associate dean for educational affairs, professor of medicine and professor of medical education told the station.
The AAMC also found that more students reported that having a work-life balance was more important to them than paying off their debt or ensuring a "stable, secure future." A little less than a third of students said they were interested in working specifically in an underserved area.
The classes are getting more culturally diverse too. Since 2015, the number of black or African-American enrollees increased by nearly 13 percent, and the number of Hispanic or Latino enrollees jumped by more than 15 percent, the AAMC reported.
Kirsch said the numbers were good news, but cautioned they would not make up for the widely expected critical shortage of doctors in the coming decades and urged Congress to work on policy changes to support physician training.