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Special Communication
September 1, 2004

Educational Programs in US Medical Schools, 2003-2004

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Division of Undergraduate Medical Education Policy and Standards (Dr Barzansky) and Division of Graduate Medical Education (Ms Etzel), American Medical Association, Chicago, Ill.

JAMA. 2004;292(9):1025-1031. doi:10.1001/jama.292.9.1025

Context US medical schools continue to change their organizational structures, staffing patterns, and educational programs.

Objective To review the status of US medical school educational programs in the 2003-2004 academic year, compared with 1993-1994.

Data Sources The Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) Annual Medical School Questionnaire for 2003-2004 and the Association of American Medical Colleges Directory of American Medical Education for the years 1983-1984, 1993-1994, and 2003-2004.

Data Synthesis The number of full-time faculty members in the 126 LCME-accredited medical schools increased from 90 975 in 1993-1994 to 114 549 in 2003-2004 (+26%), whereas the number of enrolled students remained essentially unchanged (66 453 in 1993-1994 and 67 166 in 2003-2004). In 2003-2004, 48% of medical school deans held another title at the medical center or university level, such as vice president for health affairs. There are 94 medical schools that have a comprehensive clinical examination using the standardized patient/objective structured clinical examination format; 59 schools require students to pass this examination for graduation. As of spring 2004, 58 schools will require students in the class of 2005 to pass the new US Medical Licensing Examination Step 2 Clinical Skills examination.

Conclusions The role of the medical school dean has expanded over time and is associated with the creation of a discrete administrative structure for the educational program. The number of full-time medical school faculty continues to increase, whereas the number of enrolled students remains steady. Considerable variability exists among medical schools in their use of standardized clinical evaluations.