Over a decade ago, the Association of American Medical Colleges urged U.S. medical schools to expand enrollment to meet the needs of an antcipated physician manpower shortage. Earlier, it was thought that we would be short of as many as 130,000 physicians by 2025. Recently, that number has been readjusted to 90,000 physicians.
Allopathic and osteopathic medical schools responded by enrolling more medical students. Over the past few years, we have had an increase in the number of medical school graduates. Although schools are doing their part, we have not been able to significantly increase the number of residency positions available to these graduates.
To do so requires Congress to make available additional funding. Currently, our hospitals train just under 30,000 doctors each year. The AAMC has called on Congress to increase the number of residency positions by 3,000 annually. The cost to fund these positions is steep, and estimated to be about $ 1 billion per year. Despite the efforts of the AAMC and other organizations, we have been unable to secure this additional funding.
As more and more graduates enter the Match, the competition for available residency positions is intensifying. For those of us who advise and mentor medical students, our concern is that some talented students with so much to offer may fail to land residency positions. For students who have incurred, in some cases, over $200,000 in debt to finance their medical education, the thought of not matching is terrifying.
In a recent Webinar hosted by Rittenhouse Book Distributors, I spoke to a group of hospital librarians about the current situation, and how medical students and residents can make themselves more competitive for these positions. Although the audience was a group of hospital librarians, the information is very pertinent to applicants.