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UF medical school sees increase in first–year applicants

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Posted: Tuesday, October 28, 2008 12:00 am

It isn't getting any easier to get into medical school - at least in Florida.

First-year applications for UF's College of Medicine rose from 2,671 in 2007 to 2,847 for the fall 2008 class, said Dr. Ira Gessner, the college's assistant dean of admissions.

The college's applications bump bucks a national trend that saw the number of medical school applications fall during the same period, according to a recent study of medical school admissions from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

While the decrease in applications at medical schools across the country is relatively miniscule - about a 0.2 percent drop - it marks the first time since 2002 that the number of applicants has not risen, according to the study released last week.

Gessner said he believes applications will increase next year nationally, and UF may very well hit the 3,000 mark for the 2009 class.

He said some contributing factors to UF's continued growth could include a growing state population and the college's reputation. There may also be a more lucrative answer to explain why Florida students are turning toward the medical field, he said.

"I think it reflects the economic situation," Gessner said. "The number of applicants tends to vary inversely with the economy."

The college has discussed increasing the size of its first-year enrollment class of 135, but it does not have the space to teach any more first- or second-year students, he said.

"We are pretty locked into 135 based on the facilities," Gessner said. "We have a new education building in the planning stage."

He said he does not know more information regarding the plans for the building and deferred further questions to Dr. Michael Good, the college's interim dean, who did not comment on the story.

Medical schools at Florida State University, the University of Central Florida and the University of South Florida have had similar application patterns to UF, according to school officials.

Alicia Monroe, the vice dean of educational affairs for the USF College of Medicine, said there is a need for young people to go into careers in the health sector, but she worries the economic climate may keep some lower-income students from pursuing dreams in medicine.

"Where we are with the economy and where we are with availability of funds to support education - I think we're at an interesting crossroads," Monroe said.

Welcome to the discussion.