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Fewer medical students apply for residencies in states with abortion bans

Samantha Fields May 14, 2024
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Across the board, applications for medical residencies in states that banned abortions fell by more than 4% Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Fewer medical students apply for residencies in states with abortion bans

Samantha Fields May 14, 2024
Heard on:
Across the board, applications for medical residencies in states that banned abortions fell by more than 4% Brandon Bell/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
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We are deep into graduation season now, which means — among other things — that people finishing up medical school are about to head off to residency.

But fewer medical students applied to residencies in states that have banned abortion for the second year in a row, according to new data from the Research and Action Institute at the Association of American Medical Colleges. Across the board, the number of applicants in those states fell by more than 4%.

Residency programs in states with abortion bans got fewer applicants this year in all specialties. Ob/gyn, internal medicine and emergency medicine programs saw some of the biggest drops — around 7% or 8%.

“It’s clear that people realize it will affect their training today and that they’re making choices as a result of that,” said Dr. Kavita Patel, a primary care doctor and professor at Stanford. “The other calculus that you have to think about is that it’s a rising number of women that are graduating, and they’re also thinking about family and life choices.”

If this trend continues, it could hurt more rural states in particular, noted Dr. Atul Grover, who did the study at the Research and Action Institute.

“If you sort of look at the states where these heavy abortion restrictions are coming into law, they are often the same states that already have difficulty recruiting and retaining physicians,” Grover said.

Some of them, he said — including Idaho, Mississippi and Alabama — have invested a lot in recruiting doctors. “And when they pass these laws that restrict women’s health care, it appears to me that they are undercutting their own efforts to try and provide care to their populations across the state.”

And not just reproductive care — all kinds of medical care.

Clarification (May 14, 2024): A previous version of this story conflated the number of applicants with number of applications.

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