The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson has received a record 6,457 applications for enrollment in the Class of 2020.
The number of applications is a 13.9 percent increase over the 5,667 applications the College received for admission to the Class of 2019. And it’s more than two and a half times the 2,500 applications the college received in 2009 – the first year it accepted applications from students outside Arizona, said Tanisha Price-Johnson, PhD, the UA College of Medicine – Tucson’s executive director of admissions and financial aid.
The College limits enrollment to 115 students each year.
Medical schools across the country are averaging a 6.2 percent increase in applications this year, compared with last year, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) reported in October.
Of the 6,457 applicants, 883 are Arizona residents, and 2,134 are from California – the UA medical school’s largest “feeder” state, Dr. Price-Johnson said.
“A lot of different elements influence the decision to pursue careers in medicine,” Dr. Price-Johnson said. “Of course, these are people who want to help others. I think it also has to do with the fact that nationwide we are facing a serious shortage of physicians.”
According to AAMC estimates, the United States faces a shortage of between 46,000 and 90,000 physicians by 2025.
Dr. Price-Johnson and Tejal Parikh, MD, a 1990 graduate of the College, now assistant dean for admissions and financial aid, identified several reasons why the UA medical school is seeing a much higher increase than other U.S. medical schools.
“Arizona offers a lot of opportunity to learn about border health and to work with underserved and rural communities,” Dr. Parikh said.
“We’ve also been getting a lot of recognition over the past year,” she said, citing the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Graduate Schools issue in March, which ranked the UA College of Medicine – Tucson 42nd in the nation for primary care training in family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics. There are 145 accredited medical schools in the U.S., according to the AAMC.
The UA College of Medicine – Tucson also offers programs that students are unlikely to find at other medical schools, Dr. Parikh said. For example:
• The College offers eight “distinction tracks” for medical students who want to delve into such specialized areas as global health, integrative medicine, and medical Spanish.
• The College’s Rural Health Professions Program offers students opportunities to work in clinics and hospitals in far-flung communities around the state.
• The College’s Societies program pairs each new first-year student with a faculty mentor for all four years of medical school.
• The Commitment to Underserved People (CUP) program holds clinics for refugees, abused women and children, and others who have limited access to health care. CUP was cited last year by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the accrediting organization for medical schools nationwide, as one of the college’s “institutional strengths” and “described by numerous medical students as a major influence in their decision to attend the college.”
The College also is receiving applications from people who are interested in the College of Medicine’s partnership with Banner Health, Dr. Parikh said. And it provides a warm and welcoming environment for applicants when they come for interviews, she said.
After recently being interviewed, one student wrote to Dr. Parikh:
“Going to the UA College of Medicine has always been a dream of mine. But after my interview, I came to realize it’s more than just attending a dream school. It’s about becoming part of something more: a family.”