There was a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and mentioned throughout the media. The study involved surveying medical students to asses what percentage of them were interested in pursuing careers in primary care medicine. Primary care generally refers to family medicine, pediatrics, or internal medicine. Out of 1,200 medical students surveyed, only 2% were planning in pursuing a career in primary care and are instead hoping on becoming specialists.
Briefly, the main reasons cited by students for not wanting to pursue primary care included:
- Having to deal with too much “paperwork”
- The increasing demands that will ensue when caring for the growing elderly population
- The need to bring work into the home
- The salary gap that exists between PCP’s and specialists
- The increasing amount of debt upon graduation
- Time pressures when caring for so many patients with inadequate resources
I don’t presume to know the answer, but it is reasonable to suggest that as students who were raised and trained in a capitalistic nation, we are likely to view our education as a long-term investment that should yield the maximum product for our venture. The product herein being job satisfaction and the investment being the 12+ years of training one must undergo before even being eligible for Board Certification. Regardless of our reasons, if we continue at this rate, the primary care gap will worsen.
On another note, we should be wondering what measures are being proposed to address this concern. According to the article, congress is being called to create a “permanent regulatory commission to encourage training for needed specialties.” I guess we could really use some “encouragement”- whatever that means…