MedPage Today featured a report released by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) stating that first-time medical school applications have reached a record high. There were 32,654 applicants for 19,000 first-year positions this year. Including people who have applied before, the number of applicants was 43,919.
My initial reaction to this news was, “I wonder why?” Physicians are taking hits from all sides. We make too many mistakes; we make too much money; we work too many hours; malpractice insurance premiums keep rising; reimbursement rates are falling; we don’t follow guidelines. I could go on.
But then I scrolled down to the comments section and found this from someone named “paramedic_t”:
You can't go to law school! The market is supersaturated with unemployed lawyers. Where else do you look?
I realize this is only one comment and there were almost 44,000 med school applicants. But should medical school be a career choice based on, “Where else do you look?”? I predict that this applicant, should he be accepted, will neither be happy with nor enthusiastic about his situation. I know a lot of people who love medicine with a passion who are disillusioned and burned out. I can’t see how “paramedic_t” will succeed. Even if he does, would you want him as your doctor?
Let’s put this medical school application business in perspective. While med school applications are increasing, the ratio of applicants to slots pales in comparison to applications the undergraduate college of US News’s #1 school Harvard University [94,000 applicants, 6641 (7%) in freshman class] or even #50 George Washington University [32,368 applicants, 10358 (32%) in freshman class].
So I’m not sure what it means. Does it mean that medicine is such an attractive career that people just can’t wait to spend a minimum of seven years after college, making peanuts and working hard to enter a career with an uncertain future? Or is it simply about, “Where else do you look?”