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  • Don't Let the Supercommittee Cut Residency Positions!

    As you have probably heard, the Congressional "Supercommittee," or the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, is scheduled to announce its recommendations to cut $1.5 trillion in federal spending over the next ten years on Wednesday, Nov. 23. The Supercommittee was created by the Budget Control Act of 2011 back in August to avert the debt ceiling crisis. Congress is scheduled to vote on these recommendations by Dec. 23. If Congress fails to adopt Supercommittee recommendations, there will be an automatic sequestration, or across-the-board cuts.

    The Supercommittee is rumored to be contemplating substantial (up to 60%) cuts to Medicare Graduate Medical Education (GME) funding which supports vast majority of residency programs in the U.S. As a result, it is critical that we, as physicians-in-training, make our voices heard on this issue. Please take a few seconds to email your members of Congress and urge them to protect Medicare GME:

    The American Medical Student Association strongly supports continued Medicare GME funding and condemns any effort to cut this funding. Massive cuts to Medicare GME will compromise patient access to care and, in some cases, may result in the closure of some residency programs. As the United States seeks to insure millions of previously uninsured Americans, it is critical that the federal government continue to invest in a robust health professional workforce to meet our nation's health care needs. Sustained GME funding is an essential element of this investment.  



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  • Medical School Enrollment Meets and All-Time High

    A new report out last week from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) announced that the number of first-time medical school applicants had reached an all-time high. In 2011, the numbers increased by 2.6 percent over last year to more than 32,600 students. Total applicants rose by 2.8 percent to nearly 44,000, with gains across most major racial and ethnic groups for a second year in a row.

    “At the same time the number of applicants is on the rise, we also are encouraged that the pool of medical school applicants and enrollees continues to be more diverse,” said Darrell G. Kirch, M.D., AAMC president and CEO. “This diversity will be important as these new doctors go out into communities across the country to meet the health care needs of all Americans.”

    Even with these higher numbers, applicants were well qualified - an average GPA of 3.5 and an MCAT score of 29. Enrollment increased by three percent, with more than 19,200 students in the 2011 entering class. The number of new medical students has been growing steadily since 2001, when medical schools reported more than 16,300 first-year students.

    Medical schools have steadily been increasing their class sizes since the AAMC called for a 30 percent increase in enrollment in 2006 to help alleviate anticipated physician workforce shortages. New medical schools are popping up around the country, including the latest Mayo Clinic expansion announcement in Scottsdale, Arizona, to meet these needs.

    The majority of this increase came from existing schools while a smaller portion came from medical education programs established over the last ten years. Current projections indicate that medical schools are on target to reach the 30 percent enrollment increase by 2017.

    “U.S. medical schools have been responding to the nation’s health challenges by finding ways not only to select the right individuals for medicine, but also to educate and train more doctors for the future. However, to increase the nation’s supply of physicians, the number of residency training positions at teaching hospitals must also increase to accommodate the growth in the number of students in U.S. medical schools. We are very concerned that proposals to decrease federal support of graduate medical education will exacerbate the physician shortage, which is expected to reach 90,000 by 2020,” said Kirch.

    "Proposals to decrease federal support of graduate medical education are alarming," added AMSA National President, Danielle Salovich. "This nation is facing a large physician shortage and while U.S. medical schools are responding by training more future doctors the number of residency training positions at teaching hospitals must not decrease in order to accommodate this growth."

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