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Special Communication
September 2, 1998

Graduate Medical Education, 1997-1998

JAMA. 1998;280(9):809-812. doi:10.1001/jama.280.9.809

In response to growing concerns that continued unlimited governmental funding of graduate medical education (GME) would lead to a physician surplus, Congress enacted provisions in the Balanced Budget Act (BBA) of 1997 to limit further growth, as well as to encourage reductions in GME. The measures incorporated in this section of the BBA reflect recommendations made by a number of major professional associations. The question now is how effective these efforts will be and whether they will produce unintended or deleterious consequences. We report the changes occurring in GME from 1993 to 1997, focusing on changes prior to and since the enactment of the BBA. The total number of residents in GME programs has remained relatively constant from 1993 to 1997. The number of residents entering GME programs without prior GME experience has also remained constant; however, over the same period, the number entering a new program with some prior GME experience has fallen by 5.8%. The number of international medical graduates in all GME programs has increased 12.4% during this same period, while the number of US allopathic medical school graduates has decreased 4.4%. As federal and state initiatives are introduced to change the number and distribution of GME positions, it is critical that the American Medical Association and other professional organizations monitor GME tracking data more systematically and accurately than ever before.