To better provide medical students with the knowledge, skills, attitudes,
and values they will need as physicians, US medical schools continue to make
ongoing changes to their staffing and curricula.
To review the status of US medical education in the 2002-2003 academic
year, compared with 1997-1998.
The Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) Annual Medical School
Questionnaire, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Databook, and the AAMC Data Warehouse:
Applicant Matriculant File. Data evaluated included those on medical school
faculty, applicants, and students; curriculum hours devoted to new multidisciplinary
or nontraditional subject areas (eg, cultural diversity, evidence-based medicine,
medical ethics, medical informatics); and methods used to evaluate student
The number of full-time faculty members in the 126 LCME-accredited medical
schools increased from 96 773 in 1997-1998 to 109 526 in 2002-2003
(+13.2%). The number of applicants entering decreased from 43 016 in
1997-1998 to 33 625 in 2002-2003 (−21.8%). The number of enrollees
remained virtually unchanged from 1997-1998 (66 748) to 2002-2003 (66 677).
Most medical schools have incorporated new subject areas into their curricula,
although time devoted to these areas varies across schools. Schools typically
use written examinations (National Board of Medical Examiners subject tests
and/or internally prepared examinations) to assess factual knowledge, and
observations by faculty members and residents to assess clinical skills. Use
of standardized methods (eg, an objective structured clinical examination
[OSCE]) to assess clinical skills is variable; 82 schools use a final third-
or fourth-year comprehensive OSCE; 53 require a passing OSCE score for graduation.
While the number of applicants to US medical schools has continued to
decline, student numbers are constant. The number of full-time faculty members
has increased. Schools are incorporating new subject areas into their curricula,
and the use of standardized methods of assessing clinical skills, while variable,
is generally increasing.