To describe the current status of medical education programs in the
United States and to trace trends in medical education over this century,
we used data from the 1998-1999 Liaison Committee on Medical Education Annual
Medical School Questionnaire, which had a 100% response rate, and data from
other sources. In 1998-1999, total full-time faculty members numbered 98,202,
a 1.5% increase from 1997-1998. The number of applicants to medical school
declined for the second consecutive year, from 43,020 in 1997 to 41,004 in
1998, but the academic qualifications of entering students remained steady.
The number of applicants from underrepresented minority groups decreased 1.3%
from 1997 to 1998, compared with an 11.1% decrease between 1996 and 1997.
Women constituted 43.4% of applicants in 1998, slightly more than the 42.5%
in 1997. The total number of required hours in the first and second years
of the curriculum and the number of scheduled hours per week have declined
over the past 15 years, while the average lengths of clinical clerkships remained
about the same. The number of schools requiring students to pass Steps 1 and
2 of the United States Medical Licensing Examination continued to increase
in 1998-1999, with 50% of schools requiring passing both examinations, compared
with 46% in 1997-1998.