Women represented 53.4 percent of applicants and 51.9 percent of matriculants, an all-time high for both categories
(Bethesda, MD) – Celebrating the continued increase in representation of female osteopathic medical students, the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) today published its 2020 Applicant and Matriculant Profile Summary Report, showing record numbers of both women applicants and matriculants. The report analyzes data directly from osteopathic medical school applications submitted through the AACOM Application Services (AACOMAS) system. AACOMAS received 203,118 individual school applications from 30,308 applicants during the 2020 application cycle, which opened in May 2019 and closed in April 2020, with deadlines varying by college of osteopathic medicine (COM). COMs matriculated 8,280 of these applicants, who entered osteopathic medical school last summer.
“AACOM is proud to see the continued growth and interest in osteopathic medical education (OME), particularly when a holistic approach to care is proving to be so important to the health of patients and communities,” says AACOM President and CEO Robert A. Cain, DO. “The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us the importance of community, and of the integrated health of body, mind and spirit. We are proud that osteopathic principles and practice continue to attract and inspire the next generation of doctors.”
Record Number of Female Applicants
The 2020 application cycle is especially significant for the increase in applications and matriculations among women. More than half of 2020 applicants were women (53.4 percent, the largest ever documented), up from 52.6 percent in 2019. This is a notable increase, as 2019 was the first year since 2007 that women represented more than half of the osteopathic medical school applicant pool. More than half (51.9 percent) of 2020 matriculants were also women, up from 50.0 percent during the previous cycle.
“AACOM is committed to making medical education more equitable for women, along with all populations traditionally underrepresented in medicine (URiM),” adds Dr. Cain, “Along with our individual colleges, we must do all we can to improve diversity, equity and inclusion within the OME community to ensure that we are educating future physicians who are fully representative of the communities they serve.”
“It is so encouraging to see the overall osteopathic medical school application and matriculation rates increasing for women,” says Robyn Phillips-Madson, DO, founding dean of the University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine (UIWSOM). “At UIWSOM, more than 65 percent of our 2020 matriculants were women, the largest percentage in the nation. Because the COVID-19 pandemic is causing an unprecedented number of women to leave the medical workforce, it is more imperative than ever that we educate more women today to become the DOs of tomorrow.”
Students Underrepresented in Medicine
While the number of women applicants rose, applications from URiM students slightly decreased to 15.4 percent in 2020, down from 15.5 percent in 2019. URiM students made up 11.1 percent of 2020 matriculants compared to 10.9 percent of 2019 matriculants.
Fifteen percent of all 2020 matriculants were from economically disadvantaged families, 16.4 percent were from Health Professional Shortage Areas, 14.7 percent were first-generation students and 20.4 percent were from a small town (15.5 percent) or isolated rural area (4.9 percent), which all represent slight decreases from 2019.
To improve the representation and success of URiM students, AACOM has been actively working to expand diversity in admissions among its entering classes. Since 2012, AACOM’s Sherry R. Arnstein Minority Student Scholarship has granted financial awards to underrepresented osteopathic medical students, and in 2020, AACOM began pilot testing an Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Natural Language Processing model to support a more holistic review of applicants and help reduce dependence on MCAT scores and GPAs. AACOM also hosted the Diversity in Osteopathic Medicine Virtual Event last September, expanded a fee waiver program to encourage financially disadvantaged students to become osteopathic physicians and added gender identity to the AACOMAS application.
GPAs and MCAT Scores Increase
Undergraduate total mean GPA for 2020 applicants was 3.49, up from 3.47 in 2019. The mean undergraduate total GPA for matriculants was 3.56.
The total mean MCAT score for 2020 applicants was 503.19, an increase of 0.69 from 2019. The total mean MCAT score for matriculants was 504.29.
“While GPAs and MCAT scores are certainly important indicators of a student’s preparedness for medical education, they are by no means the only, or even the most effective, indicators,” says AACOM Senior Vice President for Medical Education and Research Mark Speicher, PhD, MHA. “Early beta tests of AACOM’s new AI/Natural Language Processing model indicate that our AI software selected a pool of potential interview candidates that was less white and less male than the pool selected by human application reviewers. AACOM looks forward to the full results of our pilot test, which is currently being conducted with COM admissions programs at 14 COM campuses, and to reviewing the possible large-scale impacts of such a program and its potential to increase diversity in admissions.”
For more information about osteopathic medical school applicants and matriculants, view the 2019 and 2020 reports.
The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) leads and advocates for the full continuum of osteopathic medical education to improve the health of the public. Founded in 1898 to support and assist the nation's osteopathic medical schools, AACOM represents all 37 colleges of osteopathic medicine—educating nearly 34,000 future physicians, 25 percent of all U.S. medical students—at 58 teaching locations in 33 U.S. states, as well as osteopathic graduate medical education professionals and trainees at U.S. medical centers, hospitals, clinics and health systems.
AACOM Director of Media Relations
AACOM Media and Public Affairs Manager