Crop of new med schools could help ease physician shortage

In what could be the largest increase of medical schools since the 1970s, 23 new institutions have opened or plan to open soon. The swell could help alleviate the nationwide physician shortage, particularly in urban and isolated rural areas. Some schools, such as the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine, will aim to train doctors who will treat patients in more disadvantaged urban and rural areas, rather than in more well-to-do areas, reports the New York Times

The Association of American Medical Colleges wants to see medical school enrollment grow by 30 percent, which would equal roughly 5,000 more students annually. Some however, like Dr. David Goodman of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, are wary of the increased medical costs that come with more doctors. 

"When you add more physicians to an area, they just add more services, and their salaries don't go down anywhere near in proportion to the increased supply," Goodman said. 

While some of new medical schools will be independent, such as The Commonwealth Medical College in Scranton, Pa., many others will be part of larger university systems. Quinnipiac, for example, hopes to open a med school in the next three or four years as an extension of the school's health sciences programs. There is also the hope that with the opening of these schools, hospitals won't have to rely as heavily on foreign-born doctors to fill medical residencies.

"We have to crank out different kinds of doctors," said Dr. G. Richard Olds, founding dean of Riverside. 

To learn more about this expected surge:
- check out this New York Times article