How many medical schools are there?

… and how many medical degrees are granted each year?


Let’s start with the last question first…

Currently, U.S. medical schools graduate almost 19,000 students each year.

Most healthcare pundits agree that – while the number has been increasing over recent years – too few are being graduated to forestall an anticipated doctor shortage.



Note that since 1960, there have been 3 distinct periods: growth from 1960 to 1982, flatline from 1982 and resumed growth from 2006.

Here’s a short history of medical school openings and admissions …



In the early 1960s medical educators, organized medicine, and policymakers arrived at the conclusion that the United States was a doctor-short nation.

That consensus, combined with a robust economy and assertive political leadership, led to a doubling of the output of U.S. medical schools (i.e. number of degrees granted each year) from 1965 to 1980. Source


In its 1979 report, the Graduate Medical Education National Advisory Committee (GMENAC) declared an impending doctor glut. Source

In the 1980s, the U.S. stopped opening medical schools because of the predicted surplus of doctors.

To that point, there were no new medical schools opened from 1982 until 2005 when Florida State University’s College of Medicine graduated its first class. Source



In 2006, in response to concerns of a future physician shortage, the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) recommended a 30 percent increase in medical schools’ enrollment by 2015. Source

To meet the 30 percent goal, the AAMC recommended enrollment expansion at existing medical schools and the creation of new medical schools.

Note: The 30% target was set before ObamaCare.


Now, in 2017, there are 147 MD-granting medical schools in the U.S.

In 2002, there were 125 accredited MD-granting medical schools in the United States.

Since then,  22 new medical schools have been granted full, provisional, or preliminary accreditation status.


The rise of the osteopath

In addition to the MD-granting medical schools , the American Osteopathic Association’s Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA) lists 33 DO-granting schools in 2016, an increase of 13 DO-granting schools since 2002.

Note: Both MDs (Doctor of Medicine) and DOs (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) are doctors licensed to practice in the U.S. They are similarly educated and certified, but there are differences in their training and philosophy of patient care.

According to the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) :

“The osteopathic philosophy involves treating the mind, the body, and the spirit. It’s a more holistic approach that is less about prescribing medications and medical procedures and more on the body trying to heal itself.”



Only about 10% of the current Active Licensed Physician population holds DO degrees.  But that proportion will be changing since …

Consistent with the increase in the number of DO-granting schools,  the number of osteopathic medical students has more than doubled since 2002 and now accounts for about 25% of the U.S. medical student population.



Next, we’ll try to pull the pieces together and offer some ideas for fixing the healthcare system ….



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