A Check-Up of Black Progress in Medical Training

Despite the demand for more black doctors in underserved inner-city neighborhoods, the number of African-American students at U.S. medical schools has increased at only a snail’s pace in recent years. Over the past decade black enrollments have actually decreased.

The latest data from the Association of American Medical Colleges shows that in 1996 there were 3,527 blacks who applied for admission for medical training, the highest level in history. From 1996 to 2003 black applicants to medical school dropped by more than 19 percent to 2,808. Since that time, there has been a slight increase in black applications to medical school of 5.4 percent. Yet black applications to medical school remain far below the level that existed a decade ago.

In 1994 there were 1,519 blacks who enrolled in medical school for the first time. By 2003 the number of new black students in medical school dropped to 1,100. In 2006 there was a slight improvement to 1,176 new black students training for careers in medicine. But once again, this total is far below the level that existed in the mid-1990s.

The number of blacks who earned their medical degree reached an all-time high of 1,192 in 1998. By 2004 the number of blacks who earned a medical degree dropped by 13 percent, to 1,034. In 2005 there were 1,043 black medical school graduates, a slight improvement over 2004 but still significantly under the all-time high.