American Society of Plastic Surgeons
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Number of Medical School Students Increases

The number of students enrolled in medical school has reached an all time high, according to new data from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Enrollment in medical school has risen 25 percent since 2002. This fall, 20,630 students will be enrolled in medical school. The diversity of the student population also increased in 2015, with increasing enrollment in nearly every racial and ethnic category. AAMC noted that these overall enrollment increases have taken place while federal funding for graduate medical education has essentially remained frozen for nearly two decades.

The number of Medicare funded Graduate Medical Education (GME) positions in the United States has remained capped since the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 in spite of the great and growing need to increase the number of residency slots available. The AAMC has found that an overall shortage of 91,000 physicians will occur by 2020. By 2025, the shortage is expected to reach 130,000. One-half of this shortage will come from specialty physicians, including physicians in the field of plastic surgery. This shortage is caused in part by:

    1. an unprecedented number of Americans accessing health services through the Affordable Care Act,
    2. more than 100,000 seniors become eligible for Medicare every day.

Because of the seriousness of this known problem, physician shortage issues have grabbed the attention of Congress, and many bills have been introduced to lift the cap on the number of residency slots. ASPS has voiced its support in favor of legislation raising the number of funded residency slots in order to help combat this serious, national and ever worsening issue.