UCI MEDICAL SCHOOL: Application Numbers Falling
Over the past five years, medical schools nationwide have noticed significant drops in the number of students applying to their programs. The decline has been especially evident at the University of California-Irvine, where applications have fallen by 27%, compared to the 18% national average. Many blame the drop on a booming economy and the availability of new job opportunities, particularly in the computer industry, where degrees cost less and require less training. Further, portrayals of HMOs as "intrusive" organizations that have "taken over" doctors' decision-making freedom and reduced starting pay have removed much of the luster for many potential medical students. Competition for medical school acceptance still remains high as 2.5 applicants vie for each available slot nationwide. At UCI this year, 3,783 students applied but only 92 were admitted. But as the numbers fall throughout the country, concern is raised over the smaller percentage of minority representation, particularly among schools that strive for racial balance, hoping that these students will return and serve in their communities. In California alone, the number of African American, Latino and Native American applications dropped from 3,258 with 96 enrollees in 1995 to 2,113 with only 63 enrolles in 1999. Associate Dean for Admissions at UCI Medical School Ralph Purdy said, "The pool of academically qualified, underrepresented minorities is too small. All the medical schools are competing for this very important pool. If our numbers go up, someone else's go down." However, one UCI medical student noted one positive effect of the decline in applications, calling it a "weeding out" process that removes students only interested in making money and leaving more openings for "others coming in for humanitarian reasons" (Fisher, Orange County Register, 10/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.