With physician shortages looming, educators were more than happy to see a rise in medical school applications in 2012.

Some 45,000 students have applied to attend medical school in 2012, a 3.1 percent increase from the previous year, the Association of American Medical Colleges announced this week. That includes jumps in the applications from all major ethnic groups — blacks (5.1 percent), Asians (5.6 percent) and Latinos (7 percent).

"Given the urgent need our nation has for more doctors to care for our growing and aging population, we are extremely pleased with the continued growth in size and diversity of this year’s entering class of medical students," Darrell Kirch, M.D., president and CEO of the AAMC said in a press release.

First-time applicants, which the association considers a gauge of interest in the profession, jumped last year, by 1.5 percent, up to an "all-time high" of 19,517 students. And so did the number of first-time enrollees, up by 3.4 percent to 33,772, also a record.

If current trends continue, medical schools will increase enrollment up to 30 percent by 2015. However, Kirch notes, those gains won’t equal a single doctor unless Congress lifts limits on residency training positions, which have been in place since 1997.

"Medical schools are doing all they can to help alleviate the coming physician shortages by expanding enrollment," he said in the press release. "But we are nearing a critical deficit of residency training positions."

Here are some other highlights from data, which can be found here.

  • About 4 percent, or 771, of students in this year’s entering class come from 11 new medical schools that admitted their first classes between 2007 and 2012.
  • The number of men both applying to and entering med school increased by 6.7 percent (to 17,813) and 2.6 percent (to 10,453), respectively.
  • Meanwhile, the number of women applying and enrolling stayed relatively flat. Female applicants remained unchanged at 15,953, year over year, while enrollees increased by just 0.3 percent, up to 9,064.
  • The academic credentials of this year’s graduates remained strong, with an average undergrad GPA of 3.54 and a combined median MCAT score of 29.