Medical school enrollment has dropped below 100,000 in the past five years, according to the largest survey yet of the nation’s medical schools.
But students from other fields have seen a spike in enrollment since the recession, with the average enrollment at U.S. medical schools up by nearly 2,000 students since 2012.
The survey of more than 2,200 students at the nation, and more than a dozen at four schools, is the first to look at enrollments in medical schools nationwide.
The survey was conducted by the National Association of Medical Colleges and Schools, the American College of Surgeons and the Association of American Medical Colleges.
The findings show that in the four years after the recession ended, enrollment in medical school increased by 725,000, while enrollment in the other four medical fields fell by nearly a third.
The increase in enrollment for primary care and family medicine is nearly double the decline in enrollment in all other fields, according the survey.
“While the number of students enrolled in primary care has remained relatively stable, enrollment for family medicine has decreased,” said Michael Wahlberg, a senior research associate at the Kaiser Family Foundation.
“The numbers of students taking care of patients in their home, with patients being their primary care provider, has decreased as well.
These are the numbers of the uninsured and underinsured who are in primary and family practice.”
The survey also found that primary care enrollment is rising among students from minority and low-income backgrounds.
In 2016, nearly 50% of students from low- and middle-income families said they were enrolled in a primary care specialty, up from 46% in 2016.
That includes about a third of Hispanic students and 35% of black students.
More:The National Association for Medical Colleges estimates that at least $1.6 trillion will be spent on primary care over the next five years.
The study found that while a majority of medical schools say they have enough physicians to meet demand, they also report an increase in waiting times for appointments.
More than 40% of the medical schools surveyed said that they were seeing a “significant increase” in patients waiting longer for appointments than a year ago.
The number of patients waiting more than six weeks rose by 6.6%, and the number waiting longer than two weeks rose 7.6%.
The survey found that the percentage of students reporting being able to find a new physician to fill an appointment has decreased since 2012, from 41% to 29%.
The report comes as President Donald Trump is expected to announce a new plan to expand medical education, which could increase the number and scope of residencies.