Getting into school may not be an M.D. candidate's biggest hurdle. Prospective students should be aware that life after medical school can still be uncertain for many.
"We are increasing the number of students, and we need a proportional increase in the number of residency positions to ensure that we have more physicians to provide medical care in the future in our nation," says Prescott. Medicare, the federal government health care program that largely influences the number of residency positions, has kept the number of slots about the same since 1997, he says.
Texas has been "exporting" medical school graduates because there are not enough residency placements within the state, says Wes Norred, vice president of student and alumni affairs at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. After steadily increasing the number of incoming students, Southwestern has capped the number at 230.
Despite the challenges around residency placement, he says he would never discourage anyone from pursuing a career in medicine. But students should never think an increase in enrollment will make their chances of admittance easier.
"Having increased places in medical school does not mean that lesser qualified applicants are going to medical school, because the applicant pool still has more qualified applicants than we can all accommodate," he says.
He encourages candidates to remain competitive. "The more competitive they are the more choices they will have of medical schools to attend."
Searching for a medical school? Get our complete rankings of Best Medical Schools.