Fewer Family Physicians Are Being Trained At New Allopathic Medical Schools

September 17, 2019

In response to a projected shortage of adult primary care physicians, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education accredited 26 new allopathic medical schools between 2002 and 2018. Many of these schools were built in response to national calls to boost specific provider types, in particular primary care, which the Federal Council on Graduate Medical Education suggested in its 2010 report should comprise 40% of the physician workforce. Given their focus on increasing primary care outputs, many assumed that these schools would boost entry into Family Medicine, whose graduates do not subspecialize, while working across have the widest geographic distribution and scope of practice of any discipline. However, new research suggests that graduates of these new schools were nearly 40% less likely to specialize in family medicine when compared to their colleagues at existing schools.

Previous research has found that medical students pursuing training in family medicine are influenced by interest in family medicine prior to medical school, leadership opportunities in the field, involvement in student interest groups, and mentoring by faculty within and outside of the specialty. Medical students of minority race or rural backgrounds are also more likely to pursue training in family medicine. A commentary on the study written by a predoctoral director of one of the new schools expresses the importance of the medical schools to support students interested in family medicine, “Family-medicine educators should consider their own engagement in mentoring students pursuing the specialty. A complex mix of life experiences before matriculating, combined with educational experiences and the learning environment encountered during medical school, ultimately shapes choice of specialty.”

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