Doctor Shortage Gives Medical Students Hope

By Allison Berry / Staff Writer
http://www.dailynexus.com

Due to an editing error, this article originally stated that the Dartmouth, Vanderbilt, UCLA and UCSD medical schools are considering increasing enrollment next year. In actuality, the schools just participated in a survey on the matter. The Nexus regrets the error.

Several prominent medical schools have reported plans to increase enrollment next year in order to meet the nation’s ballooning demand for doctors.

According to a Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions survey, 44 percent of the 85 medical schools surveyed said they have considered sending out a greater number of acceptance letters for the 2009 -‘10 academic year. Additionally, one-third of the schools said they were planning to increase their class size by 5 to 15 percent.

Kaplan Director of Pre-Health Programs Amjed Mustafa said the decision to admit more students is related to the urgent need for doctors across the country.

“There is a looming doctor shortage and everyone is talking about it,� Mustafa said. “But there is a problem of supply of doctors as well as a problem of demand. Our baby boom generation is getting older and retiring, and we’re going to need a lot more doctors�

According to Russell Schaffer, Kaplan’s senior communications manager, the Association of American Medical Colleges – which administers the MCAT – recommended in 2006 a 30 percent increase in U.S. medical school enrollment by 2015. Medical schools that participated in the survey include the UCLA and UCSD Schools of Medicine, Dartmouth Medical School and Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, among others.

Mustafa predicted that the results of the survey would provide pre-med students with optimism amid the current diminishing job market.

“The admissions process will remain very, very competitive, but generally students know if they want to go to medical school at a very early age so they’re looking for any advantage available to them,� Mustafa said.

Still, Daniel Orosco, a fifth-year biology major, said he was not necessarily encouraged by the survey results.

“Although I am applying this year and this information affects me directly, I don’t think it will have a significant impact on my admissions,� Orosco said. “It isn’t too significant considering the large amount of applicants.�

According to the survey, 44 percent of the schools consider the MCAT the most important factor in the admissions process, which is up 10 percent from last year.

The survey also found that 14 percent of the schools’ admissions officers have looked at applicants’ Facebook or MySpace profile, although 93 percent reported not having a specific policy regarding social networking sites.

Mustafa said while the majority of admission officials lack a uniform policy toward social networking sites, disclosing explicit escapades on the Internet could be detrimental to a student’s admittance.

“It’s really the Wild Wild West,� Mustafa said. “There are no policies on what they can consider, but in most cases, the pictures from your spring break trip are not going to help you.�

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