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Special Communication
September 7, 2005

Educational Programs in US Medical Schools, 2004-2005

JAMA. 2005;294(9):1068-1074. doi:10.1001/jama.294.9.1068

Context The educational environment affects the outcomes of medical education, including the characteristics and distribution of medical school graduates.

Objective To report the status of variables related to medical education that represent areas that recently have been in flux or have potential impact on health care delivery.

Design, Setting, and Participants Descriptive survey study comparing selected results of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education Annual Medical School Questionnaire between 2004-2005 and 1994-1995. The questionnaire was sent to the deans of all 125 LCME-accredited medical schools. Response rate was 100% in both years.

Main Outcome Measures Overall trends between 1994-1995 and 2004-2005 in the size and composition of the medical school faculty, the numbers of medical school applicants and students, requirements for passage of the US Medical Licensing Examination, medical student work hours, the use of computers in the educational program, the geographic pipeline from entry to medical school to entry to graduate medical education, and the educational background of medical school deans.

Results The number of full-time faculty members increased from 90 016 in 1994-1995 to 119 025 in 2004-2005 (a 32% increase) while the number of medical students remained constant at about 67 000. In 2004-2005, 11% of medical school deans held MD and PhD degrees, 6% held MD and MBA degrees, 4% held MD and MPH degrees, and 2% held an MD and another degree (such as JD). In 2004-2005, 68% of all first-year medical students were residents of the state in which the medical school is located and a mean of 43% of 2005 graduates remained in the same state as the medical school for graduate medical education; results were similar in 1995. In 2004-2005, 58 schools (46%) required students to have their own computers and 35 (28%) to have their own personal digital assistants. In 2004-2005, night call was less common in the family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, and psychiatry clerkships compared with 1994-1995.

Conclusions Although most students remain in their home state for medical school, most students leave the medical school state for residency. Factors external to the medical school, such as funding mechanisms and regulations from the public and private sectors, may be having an impact on faculty size and composition, and on the geographic pipeline of students into medical school and residency training.