Beyond educating future doctors, medical schools and teaching hospitals support 6.3M jobs, U.S. economy

A stethoscope and paper money.
A new report looks at the economic impact of medical schools and teaching hospitals in the U.S. (Getty/utah778)

The country’s medical schools and teaching hospitals don’t just train future doctors and care for patients, they support more than 6.3 million jobs and are responsible for 3.1% of the U.S. gross domestic product, according to a report from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

The study, conducted on behalf of the AAMC by RTI International, looked at the economic impact of the country’s 151 accredited medical schools and nearly 400 teaching hospitals that are represented by the association in the 46 states where they are located, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

“Medical schools and teaching hospitals are important economic contributors to their communities and play crucial roles educating tomorrow’s doc­tors, providing cutting-edge patient care and conducting groundbreaking research,” Darrell G. Kirch, M.D., AAMC president and CEO, said in an announcement. “This analysis shows just how vital these institutions are as economic engines at the local, state and national levels in generating jobs, paying wages and supporting business and community development opportunities.”

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The medical schools and teaching hospitals added more than $562 billion in value to the country’s economy in 2017 in both direct impact and secondary economic effects on the communities where they operate. The institutions support more than 6.3 million jobs, corresponding to 3.3% of the U.S. workforce. Wages, salaries and benefits earned by workers in those jobs total $386 billion, or an average of $61,295 per job, the study found.

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Of the total economic impact, research activities at those institutions resulted in $25.4 billion added to local economies and 313,604 jobs that generated $16.6 billion in salaries, wages and benefits.

As a contributor to the national economy, medical schools and teaching hospitals are roughly equal in scope to the transportation and warehousing sector or accommodation and food services industries, Kirch said. The report includes a state-by-state breakdown of the economic impact.

RELATED: Hospitals added 7,300 jobs in July, continuing a trend of job growth in the healthcare industry

The study further demonstrates the economic impact of the healthcare industry. A report from the American Medical Association released earlier this year found physicians across the country create and support 12.6 million jobs and generate $2.3 trillion in economic activity.

Similarly, hospitals are a major economic engine across the country, and every dollar spent by one generates $2.30 in economic activity, according to a report last year by the American Hospital Association. The AHA estimates that hospitals support 1 in 9 U.S. jobs and through “ripple effects” support more than 10 million additional jobs.