Special Communication
September 2, 1998

Review of US Medical School Finances, 1996-1997

JAMA. 1998;280(9):813-818. doi:10.1001/jama.280.9.813

Based on data from the Annual Medical School Questionnaire of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, to which 100% of schools responded, the revenues that supported the programs and activities of the 125 accredited medical schools in the United States totaled $34897 million in 1996-1997. A large proportion (78.9%) of these revenues was derived from 3 sources: practice plans, grants and contracts, and hospital support. Both public and private medical schools, in aggregate, have continued to experience growth throughout the last decade but at a progressively slower rate, primarily because of a slowing in the growth of practice plan revenues. Federal revenues supporting research in public and private medical schools since 1992-1993 have grown at annualized, constant-dollar rates of 5.6% and 4%, respectively. Growth in state and local appropriations to public medical schools has tended to lag behind inflation. Growth in reported revenues from endowments that are used to support programs at private medical schools is on the rise. The aggregate numbers mask considerable variation among schools with regard to changes in financing. A small, but appreciable, number of schools have witnessed a constant-dollar decline in their total practice plan revenues since 1992-1993. The financial data reviewed in this report demonstrate the continued dependence of medical schools on faculty-generated sources of revenue and confirm the perception that medical schools, as a group, are experiencing constraints on the growth of their enterprises.