Fewer Applying to Med. School
The year’s decrease is in line with a larger national trend, bringing the total drop in applicants from across the country to 25.8 percent since 1996.
Applications have also decreased at Harvard Medical School this year according to Dr. Jules L. Dienstag, faculty associate dean for admissions at the medical school.
In Harvard’s undergraduate body, the number of seniors applying to medical school has dropped from 9 percent in 1999 to 7 percent in 2000, said Dr. Lee Ann Michelson ’77, director of pre-medical and health career advising at the Office of Career Services.
Michelson attributes the drop to the increasing number of students who are deciding to take time off before graduate school.
In 2000, the majority of medical school applications from Harvard were from students who had previously graduated from the University.
Of the 300 medical school applicants from Harvard, 125 were graduating seniors and 175 were alumni.
Michelson said she expects medical school applications to rise again after the Sept. 11 attacks.
“Sept. 11 has provoked students who entered Harvard as pre-med and since changed their mind to rethink their decision,” she said.
Dienstag said he believes the country-wide trend is the result of the economic boom that just ended.
In boom times, many students tend to choose alternatives more immediately lucrative than entering the medical field, Dienstag said.
Because the downturn in the economy is so recent, current students have not taken the courses that would allow them apply to medical school.
The decline in applications is being felt by most elite medical schools, although it has not necessarily been a source of concern.
At Johns Hopkins Medical School, application numbers have fallen, mirroring the national trend.
“There has been a slow decline in application, but nothing substantial,” said Dr. James L. Weiss ’63, associate dean for admissions at Johns Hopkins.
Weiss said he believes the recent admissions trends might be due to the new limitations in the medical world, such as increased bureaucracy and a loss of control of private practices.
Nikhil Kacker ’02, a Harvard bio-chemistry concentrator who said he once planned to go to medical school, said complications in the medical world discouraged him from his plans to become a doctor.
“The medical profession as a field right now would not be as rewarding if you are not passionate about your work,” Kacker said, “because of HMOs and having less control over how you interact with your patients.”