The number of minorities who enrolled in medical schools has increased, according to new data provided by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

With the most dramatic gains in enrollees being students from underrepresented minority group, the AAMC was enthused about the results of its latest analysis. In all, 3,141 students, who identified themselves as African-American or black, Hispanic, American Indian, and Nativ Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, began medical school in Fall 2010, up from 2,944 in Fall 2009.

The association revealed that the most significant growth in minority students was in the percentage of Hispanic males who entered medical school inf Fall 2010. Specifically, Hispanic male enrollees increased by 17.1% while Hispanic female enrollees increased by 1.6% from last year. Overall, Hispanic enrollment was up 9%.

While the reason for such dramatic enrollment increase among Hispanic men and Hispanics overall is not know, some believe that it may have something to do with the current rise of the Hispanic population overall. According to one report, while racial and ethnic minorities comprise 26% of the total population in the United States, only 6% of practicing physicians are Latino, African American, and Native American. “You don’t improve the health of communities without having a work force that reflects the diversity of those communities,” said Darrell G. Kirch, MD, AAMC President and CEO.

When it came to other groups, the toal enrollment for Black/African Americans grew by 2.9% over 2009 and the total number of American Indian applicants increased by 9.5 percent. The only group to enroll in smaller numbers for Fall 2010 was native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, down 61 from 67 in Fall 2009.

“Improving the diversity of U.S. medical students will be a driver of excellence in our health care system,” said Dr. Kirch. “We are very encouraged that more minority students are pursuing a career in medicine, and hope that these strong gains continue in the years ahead.”