Women Fuel Rise in Medical School Applications

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- For the first time, women outnumbered men in the ranks of medical school applicants, Dr. Jordan Cohen said at a press briefing sponsored by the Association of American Medical Colleges.

For the 2003-2004 school year, 17,672 women applied to medical schools, representing 51% of the total applicants--and a 7% rise in women applicants from last year's total.

"This isn't a one-time event," said Dr. Cohen, president of AAMC. The increase in women applicants has been on a progressive path over the last 2 decades--and it's likely to continue, he said. "We're seeing many more women in our medical schools and in our faculties."

Almost 35,000 students applied to attend medical school in 2003, ending a 6-year decline that was spurred by the dot.com boom, bad press about managed care, and the rising costs of medical school, Dr. Cohen said. This represents a 3.4% increase in applicants from 2002, an increase that the AAMC says was driven primarily by the number of women applicants.

Of the total number of women seeking to start medical school in the fall, 1,904 were black women, an increase of 10% from last year.

Individual universities report similar statistics. In 1992, women represented only 42% of the total applicants to the University of Vermont College of Medicine in Burlington. Ten years later, women made up almost 50% of the applicants. In 2003, "we matriculated 59% women, compared with 53% in 1992," Dr. Mildred A. Reardon, a clinical professor of medicine at the university, told this newspaper.

Dr. Tanya Hagen of the University of Pittsburgh said she hopes that the increased numbers of women in the medical field "are a reflection of more women in higher-paying, well-respected positions in all fields."

Less known are the specific career paths women are taking within medicine, Dr. Mary Loeken, faculty member of the Joint Committee on the Status of Women at Harvard medical and dental schools in Boston, told this newspaper. …