If there is any truth to the anecdotal threats of doctors leaving their profession and closing their medical practices because of their fear of medical malpractice claims, is there any evidence that the fear of medical malpractice claims is affecting the number of applications received by U.S. medical schools?
For the medical schools’ entering classes for the 2010-2011 academic year, U.S. medical schools received 580,304 applications from 42,742 applicants (52.7% were from men and 47.3% were from women), up from 33,625 applicants for the 2002-2003 academic year (first-time applicants rose by 2.5% from the prior year, to 31,834). Since the entering class of medical school students for 2010-2011 numbered 18,665 students (46.9% of which were women), there were more than two times the number of medical school applicants for each available medical school slot.
Based on the great demand by graduating college students for the limited slots available in medical schools in the United States, it would appear that the Henny Penny “the sky is falling” fear of medical professionals of medical malpractice claims has not trickled down to medical students. The medical school statistics would seem to dispell the siren call of existing doctors that the end of the medical profession is near. Aren’t medical school students aware of the impending collapse of medical care in the U.S. because of the audacity of medical malpractice victims’ lawsuits? Aren’t the soon-to-be MDs concerned about the amounts charged by medical malpractice insurance companies that are paid by the MDs’ employers so that they can practice their chosen profession? Why aren’t medical schools in the U.S. discouraging their prodigy from entering a profession that will soon be extinct?
Our rhetorical and somewhat sarcastic inquiries shine some light on the real-life effect that the spectre of medical malpractice claims has on the medical profession that rewards its participants financially with high incomes, massages their egos with high-standing within their communities, and satisfies their intellectual curiosity in an ever-changing field. With such sought-after benefits, it is doubtful that the over-blown and false perception that medical malpractice lawsuits are “frivolous” will quell the ever-increasing number of medical school applicants applying for admission into the medical profession.
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