Trends in Medical School Enrollment

M.Megill_2Interested in a career in medicine?  You’re in luck – according to a recent news release by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), U.S. medical schools are on track to increase enrollment 30 percent from 2002 to 2017, a goal that AAMC had called for in 2006 in order to meet the medical demands of aging baby-boomers.  AAMC has projected that there will be a shortage of 90,000 primary care and specialty doctors in the U.S. by 2020.

The news was not all positive, however, as federal funding for residency positions has remained stagnant.  According to AAMC President and CEO Darrell Kirch, this is a problem because students studying medicine are required to complete these training programs in order to become practicing physicians.  Congress’s failure to increase funding for residency programs has caused the enrollment increases at medical schools to have only limited effectiveness at increasing the number of practicing physicians.

Given the highly competitive nature of medical school admissions, how can you best prepare yourself for acceptance?  Check out these trends in medical school admissions for some helpful hints:

1. Medical schools are implementing holistic review

While medical schools traditionally relied on GPA and MCAT scores to evaluate applicants, new research that found MCAT scores highly correlated to test takers’ race, gender and socioeconomic background has caused schools to re-think the way they review applications.  Groups like the AAMC have promoted holistic review processes where applicants’ intellectual achievement, employment experience, personal background, community service and leadership qualities, among other intangibles, are evaluated as well.   According to a recent article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, an early proponent of holistic review, saw its 2012 entering class GPA and MCAT scores rise to 3.66 and 33.62 from 3.57 and 31.68, while students underrepresented in medicine rose to 20% from 12%.

Take away: Get involved in community programs and volunteer groups that match with your interests, especially if they are relevant to your future career in medicine. Think about attending events run by Globemed, a student group that addresses global health inequity, becoming involved in Dartmouth’s Emergency Medical Services, or volunteering at events run by the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical School in order to round out your classroom interests with relevant extracurricular programs.

2. “Early assurance” programs are expanding

Schools like Dartmouth, Georgetown, Northwestern and Tufts, offer undergraduate students a chance to apply to their affiliated medical schools as rising juniors.  The goal of such programs is to allow students a chance to broaden the scope of their college academic pursuits and avoid the substantial time and energy investment students usually make studying for the MCAT exam.  Dartmouth began offering an early assurance program to Geisel in 2012-2013 and extended admission to five members of the class of 2014 through the program.

Take away: If you are sure you want to pursue a career in medicine, check out Dartmouth and other programs that offer early assurance admission as a way to reduce stress during your senior year and avoid preparation for the MCAT exam.

3. More students are taking time off before medical school

80 percent of Dartmouth students take at least one year off before attending medical school, a percentage that pre-health advisor Sarah Berger said she expects to see grow in coming years. Some students pursue academic programs to help round out their medical school applications or gain further research and lab experience, while others take time off to pursue opportunities unrelated to medicine, Berger said.

Take away: If you know you want to attend medical school, think about whether it would be helpful to take a year or more off.  This time might contribute to stronger professional skills that you can list on your application, or it might help you narrow the focus of your medical studies.

Looking for further advice about pre-health academic advising? Visit Berger at the student advising offices located on the first floor of Baker-Berry library or her colleague, Lee Witters, at his office in the Life Sciences Center.  Career services can help you to navigate your search for off-term or post-graduate internships and fellowships related to health, but see Berger and Witters for specific MCAT test preparation practice or pre-health academic planning.

Vault: A Trove of Resources

Photo courtesy of The Imperfect Traveller

Photo courtesy of The Imperfect Traveller

Interested in off-campus opportunities in law, accounting, banking or consulting?  What about alternative energy, healthcare, biology and life sciences?  Deadlines for these opportunities are coming up, with the corporate recruitment deadlines now less than a week away (July 8 at midnight!).

Luckily Career Services subscribes to Vault, a leading online database with rankings and reviews of top employers that you can search by industry or location.  These resources can help you decide which company is right for you and tailor your cover letter. Vault also offers guides on specific industries, interviewing, and a host of other topics from grad school to corporate careers.

To access Vault, log into DartBoard, the Career Service’s platform to search and apply to job opportunities.  Once you are on your account homepage, click “Resource Library,” located in the tab on the left side of the page.  Click the “Vault Career Insider” link to access the Vault webpage and create an account to get started!

Once you are on the Vault website, you can click through the tabs on the top of the page to access reviews and rankings of specific firms or general information about industries and professions.  Vault also maintains a number of blogs about hot topics related to job search and interviewing that you can access here as well.

Think you have an idea about what the best careers are?

You may be surprised at some of the professions that made U.S. News’s list of the top 100 Best Jobs of 2013, which is topped off by Dentistry and includes nursing, software development, and physical therapy among its top 10.

In creating this Best Jobs list, U.S. News took into account and allotted different weights to factors such as 10-year growth volume, 10-year growth percentage, median salary, job prospects, employment rate, stress level, and work-life balance.

This weighting methodology ensures that all of the top picks are not necessarily the typical cash cows, as many lower-paying professions offer other qualities that are also important to consider in the job search process.

Want to figure out the career that’s going to work best for you? Engage in careful research and consider many factors including job location or necessary training and education—when deciding where to anchor your career.

If you haven’t done so before, check out the Majors to Careers section on the Career Services homepage.

For a list of growing fields with projected increases in hiring and growth, check out Rick Newman’s 10 Businesses That Will Boom in 2020.

We also recommend, a site sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, to get additional suggestions on employment projections, training requirements and jobs by area of interest.



Want to Work for an Innovative Organization?

Every year, Fast Company publishes a ranking of “The World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies.” This year’s list is hot off the presses.

Check out the full list of companies and organizations here. Note the diversity of industry sectors represented — from high tech and entertainment to healthcare and education.

As always, Career Services staff can help you if you have any questions about how to research and prepare for potential opportunities.

Top 20 Cities with the happiest young professionals

If you are searching for a career and prioritize happiness, big cities such as New York or Chicago aren’t necessarily your best bets. So what factors actually make young professionals happiest in their careers? A high salary? Not quite.

It turns out, according to a survey by online career site CareerBliss, that many other factors figure strongly into the equation for workplace happiness, which interestingly appears to be predictable by job location. Although Pittsburg, PA and Irving, TX are probably not the first cities that come to mind when considering where you may be happiest, they rank among the top 20 cities with the densest population of happy young professionals.

CareerBliss identified and measured 10 influential determinants of overall workplace happiness, including company culture, overall work environment, compensation, and opportunity for growth. The results? Los Angeles, San Jose, and Sunnyvale, California topped the list of cities with the happiest young professionals. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Dallas suburb Irving, Texas topped New York (#17)

One note: It is important to notice that young professionals in many higher-ranking cities are less generously compensated than those in many lower-ranking cities, as factors such as company culture were rated higher in determining happiness than was salary. Given that some cities are more expensive than others, we also recommend taking cost of living into consideration.

Bottom line: You may want to take a look at these places and expand your list of potential places to live!

Kick-start the process by checking out this review to better understand where others have found their happiness and what has influenced it. Then, consider consulting with a career services advisor to discuss and reflect on how to weigh these factors when searching for your own job.

Start-up, small company or a larger organization: Where do you want to begin your career?

A recent study released by Payscale reports that — on average — 20-somethings prefer start-ups and small companies to larger organizations.

We’re curious on how Payscale’s report compares to Dartmouth. If you are a Dartmouth student or alum, weigh in on our Facebook page poll here. We’ll report the results next week!

Unlimited paid vacations? Guaranteed promotions in 12 months?

Check out this Wall Street Journal piece on some of the perks offered by a few employers eager to keep Gen Y employees happy and on the job. Note the location of the companies profiled — sometimes you’re more likely to see big benefits from employers who don’t typically receive a large volume of applications. (Something to keep in mind as you look for jobs?)