As conversations about gender equality and the MeToo Movement have encouraged U.S. society to reflect on past practices and societal norms, another statistical change has been gathering momentum. Current data shows that more women are entering and graduating from medical school. A trend that is also evident in central Ohio at schools like the Ohio State University. This is good news on many levels, but this is particularly helpful due to the fact that current projections report that the United States will experience a doctor’s shortage during the next decade.
Data from the Association of American Medical Colleges shows that for entering students, females outnumbered males at U.S. medical schools in 2017. For first time in the United States, overall enrollment trends suggest there may be more women in the medical field than men in the near future. On the national level, women enrollment made 50.7% of the 21,338 people who entered medical school in 2017. Women enrollees increased by 3.2% in 2017 while male enrollment declined by 0.3%. Interestingly, this is a continuation of a trend that has occurred over the last few years. Since 2015, women’s enrollment has increased by 4%, while men’s enrollment has decreased by 6.7%.
This same trend, as well as other related trends, are evident in central Ohio at OSU. In 2013, at Ohio State’s College of Medicine, 6 of the 9 most prestigious College of Medicine awards were earned by female students. This same year, 43 out of the 77 medical students who graduated with a cum laude distinction were women. For the 2016-2017 school year, the percentage of women entering medical school at OSU was 54.3%.
It should be noted that the entering class of OSU’s med school has been predominately female students for the past five years. Dr. Quinn Capers IV is an Interventional Cardiologist and Associate Dean for Admissions, OSU College of Medicine stated that changes at the school were not by chance.
The University has been involved in an intentional strategy for appealing to every one since 2012. That year he says OSU administered a test to its Admissions Committee. “They unconsciously preferred images of men at work in professional settings and women at home in domestic settings,” said Dr. Capers. “We saw this as a problem. Especially since about half of the applicant pool were women- so at the very least you ought to have half of your students be women.” OSU has made changes and now the halls and classrooms of the medical school at more diverse.
Nationwide, this fact places Ohio State College of Medicine in the top 21st percentile of all medical schools for women enrollees. Only 30 out of a total of147 schools listed had higher percentages of women students in their medical classes than did OSU. Of the 197 students who graduated from Ohio State’s Medical School program in 2017, 104 of these graduates (53%) were women.
Regardless of the changes made at OSU, other medical schools in Ohio have reported similar gains in the number of women who enter medical school as well as the number of women who graduate. For example, as of August 2018 at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, there were 179 first-year medical students. Out of this group, 57% of the students were women. Women making up the majority of incoming medical students at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine is not a new statistic. The majority of incoming medical students in 2015 and 2016 were also women.
Even if women are not the majority of students in medical schools, they are increasingly a sizable minority. For example, in the town of Dublin OH, located near Columbus, Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine males still made up the majority of students entering the program. Yet, females were a sizable minority, representing 46% of students in 2017. The number of women enrolled is not a true majority, but this is a sizeable number. Whether women make up a majority, or close to a majority, of students attending and graduating from medical schools will likely continue in Ohio as well as across the nation.
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