Most Medical School Graduates Continue to Find Placements

Janis C. Kelly

December 24, 2015

Between 2005 and 2015, US medical school enrollment increased from 15,762 to 18,705, and a steady 97% of medical school graduates attained graduate medical education (GME) positions in the first year after graduation, according to reassuring data reported in a research letter published in the December 8 issue of JAMA.

However, Black and Hispanic students were consistently more likely than white and Asian students to be unplaced at the time of medical school graduation (7.8% and 6.2% vs 1.8% and 2.9% in 2014 - 2015), report Henry M. Sondheimer, MD, and colleagues from the Association of American Medical Colleges, Washington, DC.

More than 99% of all graduates entered GME or were found in practice in the United States by 6 years after graduation. At that point, GME nonplacement rates for black and Hispanic graduates had decreased to 1.9% and 2.7%, respectively, vs 0.7% and 0.6% for white and Asian graduates, respectively, but the differences remained statistically significant (P < .01 for black/Hispanic vs white).

This analysis was undertaken to address the concern that the slower growth in GME positions relative to medical school enrollment might have selectively affected the ability of black and Hispanic graduates to obtain the GME needed to qualify to practice medicine in the United States, the authors note.

Dr Sondheimer and colleagues evaluated graduates of all US MD-granting medical schools from 2005 through 2015. They reviewed the Association of American Medical Colleges Student Record System to identify all graduates and the GME Track First Year On-Duty file for 2006 to 2014 to identify those unplaced in GME on medical school graduation who ultimately entered GME.

The authors write, "The percentage of graduates unplaced in GME during the academic year of their graduation from medical school remained stable, ranging from 2.6% to 3.5% (P = .18 for trend) with a mean of 3.0%." They note that although differences seen for black, Hispanic, American Indian/Alaskan Native, and non-US citizen graduates at graduation decreased with time, they remained statistically significant.

The authors conclude, "As the number of US MD graduates continues to increase with the creation of new medical schools and the growth of existing schools, these trends should be closely monitored."

The authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

JAMA. 2015;314:2409-2410. Extract

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