By Mike Lillis - 10/13/10 05:08 PM EDT
More and more minority students are entering the nation's medical schools, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) reported Wednesday.
The increase was most pronounced among Hispanics, who saw first-year enrollment jump to 1,539 in 2010 — 9 percent above 2009 levels, AAMC found. For black students, the increase was 2.9 percent (to 1,350), while Asians saw enrollment rise 2.4 percent, to 4,214.
The number of first-year white students, meanwhile, was 12,094 in 2010 — up 0.4 percent from 2009, the group said.
AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch said the numbers — which reflect a national trend toward increased diversity — are good news for patients.
"You don't improve the health of communities without having a workforce that reflects the diversity of those communities," Kirch told reporters on a phone call Wednesday.
AAMC is also warning of a looming physician shortage — something that will likely get worse, Kirch said, as the new health reform law extends coverage to about 32 million Americans who lack insurance.
"An insurance card can't take care of you," Kirch said. "You need a physician to do that."
The group pegs the shortage at 60,000 doctors by 2015, and 90,000 doctors by 2019.