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Posted: October 25, 2013

Medical school enrollment on the rise at UNTHSC and osteopathic medical colleges nationwide

UNTHSC TCOM Students Sim LabMedical school enrollment at UNT Health Science Center has increased by 63 percent since 2006, positioning the Fort Worth osteopathic college to help address a growing shortage in primary care physicians.

Fall enrollment in UNTHSC's Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (TCOM) is at 907 students, up from 857 a year ago. Fall enrollment in 2006 was 555 students, said Don N. Peska, DO, Dean of TCOM.

This fall, there are more than 22,000 students enrolled at osteopathic medical colleges in the United States, an increase of nearly 5 percent from a year ago, according to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM). New student enrollment at osteopathic colleges increased by 11.1 percent nationally from 2012. More than 20 percent of all U.S. medical students are now enrolled in osteopathic programs.

The rising number of osteopathic medical school graduates at UNT Health Science and elsewhere should help address a growing shortage of primary care physicians, especially in family medicine, general internal medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology. By 2025, the primary care physician shortage nationwide is expected to hit 50,000, according to AACOM. Texas ranks 45th in the nation in the number of physicians per population, according to the Texas Medical Association.

"About 65 percent of our alumni practice primary care medicine, helping reduce the shortage of physicians in Texas communities and beyond," Dr. Peska said. "Although clearly attracted to primary care practices, our graduates train in a broad range of specialties serving in both underserved communities and in the nation's top tertiary medical centers."

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