Dr. David S. Havertz looked at a map of the United States showing the acceptance rate of students, by state, into medical school.
The darker the shading of the state the poorer the chance students have of getting accepted.Utah was black.
"The reason is Utah has a lot of qualified students for very few openings," said Havertz, director of Weber State's premed program.
The University of Utah has the state's only medical school, and that school accepts only 77-81 from among the 200 to 300 students that apply each year.
But Millie Peterson, director of admissions, says that's not a bad average.
"We have a minimum of 75 seats for Utahns, and last year we accepted 79," she said. "In the 10 years I have been here we've accepted no fewer than 77 Utah students per year, and it has been as high as 81. With an applicant pool of 201, that equals not quite one out of two."
Peterson said the U. last year also accepted eight out-of-state students, in addition to three from Idaho and six from Wyoming.
Overall, there were fewer applicants than in years past.
While the past few decades saw a dramatic increase in the number of students interested in a medical career, the trend recently began to reverse itself.
"In the late 1980s we've seen a decline in applicants to medical school," Peterson said. "In 1984-85, the U. received 265 Utah applicants, compared with 201 last year."
Nationally, 35,944 students applied to U.S. medical schools in 1984-85; last year it was just over 26,666.
Havertz said there's also been a slowing in the number of students entering the premed program at Weber State.
The decreasing numbers interested in becoming doctors may be caused partly by the tightening of the marketplace for physicians, he said. But it also may have something to do with the rising number of malpractice suits, long doctor hours and the high cost of medical school.
"What people are predicting is that in the early '90s there will be a surplus of physicians. Some medical classes now are reducing class sizes to counter that," Havertz said.
"In the future, the kids' chances of getting into medical school are numerically better, but the quality of the students seems to be getting better as well, so it's difficult to say if getting into medical school will be any easier," he said.
Meanwhile, Peterson and Havertz concur that medical schools today are concerned with more than merely a student's scholastic achievements.
"It used to be that you could get into medical school with only a few years of college. Now schools are concerned not only with your college course work but with other things as well," Havertz said.
Marnee Madsen, a senior from Ogden who went to Weber State on a four-year ladies basketball scholarship and is in the premed program, said even basketball could help her get into medical schools.
"The schools want a good grade point average to know you've done well in school, and they look at your MCAT - Medical College Admission Test - score. But they also look at things like sports. I think they're after the overall developed student," Madsen said.
Peterson and Havertz also agree that because of good premed programs at all the state's four-year institutions, Utah applicants are well prepared.
Since 1981 nearly 65 percent of all WSC students who applied to medical school were admitted, compared with a national average of 49 percent, he said.
"We work pretty hard to make our students better. Since the 1950s Weber has been putting kids in medical school. Our students have gone to the U. of U., to Stanford, the University of Chicago, Baylor, Washington University, Tulane and many others.
"We're like Avis. We try harder," Havertz said.