The number of applicants to medical schools is at a 10-year low, partly because "Baby Boomers" are passing college age and partly because the medical profession has lost some of its glow, officials say.
Medical school applicants numbered 10 percent fewer for the 1987-88 academic year than in 1986-87, and more than 30 percent fewer than a decade before, according to a report in today's Journal of the American Medical Association."Physicians are generally advising potential medical school applicants not to go to medical school," said Dr. Marten Kernis, vice dean of the University of Illinois College of Medicine, the nation's largest medical school with 1,300 students.
"Physicians are working right now in a changing environment with all sorts of federal regulations being imposed, changing reimbursement policies, huge increases in medical malpractice liability premiums, large increases in lawsuits, changes in the tax structure, et cetera," he said Thursday.
"Many physicians are arguing that these characteristics are mitigating against the practice of medicine."
The journal also noted that eight of 10 medical students are debt when they graduate, and their average debt load is larger than it has ever been - $35,621 in 1987.
The greatest increases in medical school enrollment are among women and minorities, the journal said.
John Sherman, executive vice president of the Association of American Medical Colleges, agreed that medicine has lost some of its luster.
"We know for certain that young people these days who otherwise would be interested and qualified are being turned away from medicine by their perception of what's involved - both medical education and practice," he said in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C.