At least one study suggests that patients of women physicians have lower mortality rates
That’ll be Doctor Jackie to you.
For the first time ever, more women than men have enrolled in medical schools in the United States. That’s according to recently released data from the Association of American Medical Colleges, which found that females make up 50.7% of the 21,338 matriculants in medical schools in the United States this year. That’s up from 49.8% in 2016.
All in, the number of first-year female would-be doctors increased by 3.2% this year, as the overall number of matriculants rose by 1.5%. The increase in females was offset by a 2.3% dip in the number of first-year male med students. And it isn’t just gender representation that’s improved markedly: first-year medical classes are increasingly incorporating people of different skin tones too. The number of black potential physicians entering medical school in between 2015 to 2017 rose by 12.6%; there was also a 15.4% bump in the number of new students claiming Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin.
The AAMC, a non-profit gathering of all accredited medical schools in the United States, was also quick to point out that even as the class grew browner and less male, admission standards rose. Over three-quarters of med school applicants in 2017 reported having past research experience and the average GPA of hopefuls increased slightly to 3.56.
“This year’s matriculating class demonstrates that medicine is an increasingly attractive career for women and that medical schools are creating an inclusive environment,” said Darrell G. Mirch, the AAMC’s chief exec, in a release. “While we have much more work to do to attain broader diversity among our students, faculty, and leadership, this is a notable milestone.”
Indeed, when it comes to already-qualified doctors, men still outnumber women by an almost 2:1 ratio. There are about 327,000 female and 623,000 male physicians respectively in the United States as of October 2017, data from the Kaiser Family Foundation show.
But the growing numbers of women MDs could well be a good thing for all patients. A study published last year in JAMA Internal Medicine suggested that male doctors could save as many as 32,000 more elderly lives each year if they performed to the level of their female colleagues. And one researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health found that women doctors had lower 30-day mortality rates when compared to men, perhaps because they followed clinical guidelines just a tad closer.
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