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Medical School Expansion: Challenges and Strategies

A study by the Association of American Medical Colleges looks at challenges and strategies for increasing enrollment in medical schools. (Jan. 31, 2008)

As of 2006, 93 of the nation's 126 medical schools increased or were planning to increase enrollment over 2002 levels. Several U.S. medical schools are increasing their class size by 10 percent or more in response to the AAMC's call for a 30 percent increase in enrollment by 2015 to address an anticipated national physician shortage. Six of these institutions were selected for this study, which was conducted through site visits, focus groups, and extensive interviews with medical school and university officials, staff, and faculty; community leaders; and medical students. The six participating institutions were: Boston University School of Medicine; Michigan State University College of Human Medicine; Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine; Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine; University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine; and University of Texas Medical School at Houston.

Some of the common challenges these schools addressed while planning for expansion include:

  • Finding additional classroom and laboratory space and equipment for first- and second-year students

  • Securing sufficient clinical training sites and faculty for third- and fourth-year students and ensuring that students on different campuses have comparable experiences

  • Maintaining student support services and administrative infrastructure despite increased demand on admissions, financial aid, and other resources

  • Developing accurate cost estimates for the expansion, and obtaining financial support through state appropriations, tuition, and donations

  • Acknowledging increased demands on current faculty, and recruiting additional faculty

  • Creating interdisciplinary planning teams and strategic partnerships.

AAMC Analysis in Brief