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How to Increase Medical School Enrollment

Lawyers and physicians have so much in common, despite some benign grievances that occasionally reach the level of homicidal rage.  Just kidding.  Calm down, juris doctors.  Consider the similarities.  Both professions serve a public who needs help.  Both wield professional advice and judgment that must be tailored to an individual’s unique circumstances.  Neither professional is ever 100% certain of anything, and an outcome cannot be guaranteed.  Both are charged to put their clients' and patients' interests above their own.  (Snickering permitted here.)
Let's see what our legal brethren are up to.  Law schools in America are having a serious problem that they are struggling to remedy.   They need more students.  Of course, they could fill their classrooms by recruiting qualified candidates to apply to their institutions.  This strategy apparently couldn't fill the seats, assuming that it was even considered.  So, here is their plan, brilliant in its simplicity.  I will state it here in boldface italic type.
Lower admission standards!
Dozens of law schools are deliberately lowering admission standards to increase their class sizes, as reported by The New York Times.  Of course, these students will face a high bar of passing the bar, assuming that they make it to graduation.  Apparently, generating highly qualified legal professionals is not the objective. The true objective appears below.

The Objective
My blog's readers are among the sharpest in the blogosphere.  Let me post some queries, which I hope will stimulate some insightful responses.
  • You don’t think law schools are accepting unqualified applicants just for the money, do you?
  • Will the exorbitant debt they will incur benefit them and society?
  • When these struggling students fail the bar exam, have they still enjoyed a valuable life experience?
  • Should we support lowering the admission standards to conform to the emerging norm that excellence is overrated and every competitor should go home with a trophy?
  • Should we encourage this process as society desperately needs more lawyers, particularly underqualified professionals?
What's next?  Lowering the passing rate for the bar exam?

Maybe there's a lesson here for the medical profession.  We all hear that many areas of the country are medically underserved.  Surely, there is some way we can recruit more doctors?

Any ideas?


  1. This is a very interesting problem, and one that has been building for decades. I was accepted into medical school in 1978. It was very difficult getting in as, in addition to having to have the grades and MCAT score to qualify, there were a limited number of medical school positions available. I have several university classmates who were very qualified, but didn't get in. This has long been a case of the medical community limiting the number of medical school students in order to regulate the supply of physicians.

    In 2013, the total number of applicants to medical school was 48,014, whereas the number of students enrolled in their first year of medical school was 20,055. There were about 28,000 applicants who were not accepted. I believe a significant number of those applicants were qualified to attend, but there were not enough slots at the medical schools for them to be accepted. Another issue cited by the AAMC was a limit by Congress on the number of residency positions. More medical school slots and more residency positions seem to be the easy way to increase the number of physicians. There is no need to decrease the qualifications either. Set an objective number for GPA and MCAT scores that have been deemed to produce physicians of acceptable quality. My guess is that half of those who were not accepted may meet that quality standard.

    Michael S. Houston


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