Medical schools saw record number of applicants in 2021: 6 takeaways

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When comparing the 2020 and 2021 academic years, U.S. medical schools attracted and enrolled a more diverse class and saw the total number of applicants grow nearly 18 percent, according to data released Dec. 8 by the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Six takeaways from the data:

1. The total number of applicants rose 17.8 percent from last year, to a record 62,443 applicants.

2. For comparison, the total number of applicants was 53,370 in 2019, 53,030 last year and 33,623 in 2002.

3. The number of Black or African American first-year medical school students climbed to 2,562 in 2021, up 21 percent from the year prior.

4. The number of first-year medical school students who are Hispanic, Latino or of Spanish origin climbed to 2,869 in 2021, up 7.1 percent from the year prior.

5. However, the number of American Indian or Alaska Native first-year medical school students declined to 227 in 2021. That's down 8.5 percent compared to 2020.

6. "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," Geoffrey Young, PhD, AAMC senior director, transforming healthcare workforce, said in a news release. "The AAMC and our member medical schools are deeply committed to significantly increasing the number of applicants and students from underrepresented groups."

To view data summary tables, click here.

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