U.S. medical school admissions are dropping for the third consecutive year, as students and their families increasingly seek out careers in other fields.
A report by the Council of Graduate Medical Education (COGE) released Thursday showed that the percentage of graduates from medical schools seeking to go into another field fell from 10.4% in 2010 to 7.6% in 2014.
The number of medical school graduates who chose a medical career jumped from 1.4 million in 2010, to 4.6 million in 2014, the COGE said.
The report, which surveyed 1,000 graduates of all medical schools in the country, found that more than 40% of medical graduates were seeking a job in a related field and that the number of people choosing medical careers has grown more rapidly than the number going into the other two fields.
For the third year in a row, the percentage who wanted to do further medical study fell to 8.9%, the lowest level in at least seven years.
Medical schools in general have seen enrollment declines as they prepare for the next round of medical schools, which start in July.
“In general, medical schools are doing a better job of recruiting students into medicine,” said Michael Cogan, the chief operating officer of the CogE.
“However, a large number of students are choosing other careers.”
Cogan said there are more than 1.3 million students who are pursuing medical school.
About 5% of students who enroll in medical schools each year are taking another medical school, and that percentage will likely increase as students continue to study more in fields such as surgery and nursing.
Medical school admissions in general are also falling, with a small percentage of students continuing to pursue medical studies after graduating.
“The drop in medical school enrollment in recent years is not necessarily due to students having a better chance of completing medical school compared to students who had graduated in the past,” Cogan told ABC News.
Cogan noted that there are other factors at play that have contributed to the drop in students going into medical school over the past decade, including the increased availability of high-tech imaging tools, increased awareness of the need for specialized training and greater use of computers and software.
He said that even with these trends, students are continuing to enroll in schools in high demand, and they are likely to get better grades and be accepted into medical schools as they graduate.
“We don’t think it’s the students who can do better in terms of their grades that are responsible for the trend in medical education,” he said.
Cog, the association of medical education programs, also released a report Thursday showing that a growing number of Americans are choosing not to pursue further medical school in order to stay home with their parents.
The study found that nearly 1.7 million Americans aged 18 to 34 chose not to enroll a medical school for fear of having to take a job.
The average number of hours per week students spend home from school each year is about the same as those who are not taking classes at all, Cogan explained.
While the numbers of medical students who choose to take on additional education are small, he said that is an important trend to watch.
“It is important to note that not all of these individuals will have a positive impact on the health of their families,” he added.