Choosing a college major and potential career field is a big decision for students! As high school students get closer to making decisions about their future, our research shows a major trend: Female interest in medicine is increasing!
Our student research shows that a growing number of female students are interested in medicine- and health-related fields. This trend follows a longstanding increase in women attending medical school and the number of women in the medical field.
While we don’t know exactly why there seems to be more female interest in medicine, let’s break down the trend and what it means for students.
Female Students’ Interest in Medicine is Growing
In our student research, we asked high school students about their interest in colleges’ specialized degree programs. Our results show that 46% of female-identifying students are interested in medical, nursing, and health-related degree programs.
Broken down by degree program, the results are as follows:
- 27.5% of female students are interested in medical school.
- 22.9% of female students are interested in health-related degree programs.
- 16% of female students are interested in nursing programs.
While female students’ interest in the medical field is fascinating, it seems to be part of a larger societal trend.
A Majority of Students Enrolled in Med School are Women
The first female medical student to earn a medical degree in the United States was Elizabeth Blackwell, who graduated in 1849. Since then, women have continued to make up a larger percentage of medical school students.
What percent of medical students are female?
More women are applying to—and entering—medical school than ever before. Female applicants make up over 53.5% of all medical school applicants! In 2019, women made up a majority of all U.S. medical school students for the first time. By 2022, 53.8% of medical school students in the United States were women.
What explains the increasing percentage of female medical students?
There isn’t one answer that can speak for all female medical students. However, it’s worth mentioning that careers in medicine are some of the highest-paying jobs. Many medical careers—including surgeons, physicians, anesthesiologists, and radiologists—offer a median salary of over $200,000. That’s certainly an incentive!
The Number of Female Healthcare Workers is Increasing
The number of women in the medical field is increasing! As of 2021, about 47% of medical residents and fellows were women. Once they complete their residencies and fellowships, they’ll continue to expand the number of female physicians.
As of 2021, 37% of active physicians in the United States were women—which is an increase from the 36% in 2019. So, what percentage of doctors are female in 2023? 38%! These statistics show that the number of women in healthcare is on the rise, and this trend is likely to continue in the future.
Why is healthcare becoming more female-dominated?
As more women continue to show an interest in healthcare, it’s easy to wonder why this trend exists. While there’s no definitive answer, it’s worth noting that career satisfaction is higher in female physicians than in male physicians.
While that may not completely explain the rise of women in healthcare, it may indicate that women will stay in medical careers longer than their male counterparts—but only time will tell!
If you’re a student who is interested in medicine- and health-related fields, the first step is to find the right college!
Our College Finder can help you explore college options that offer biology and health degree programs. Once you find the right college, it’ll get you started on your path to the medical field!
If you need additional guidance, here are some helpful resources:
- Not sure what you should major in for a career in medicine? Here are the top majors to prepare for medical school.
- Is your college search stressing you out? Find a college search tool, a college prep checklist, and more on StudyLab.
- Looking for a high-paying job? This blog post breaks down high-paying careers—including careers in medicine.