More Medical Students Seeking To Go Into Primary Care Residency
This year, the number of medical students selecting primary care specialties increased by 400 to 7,328, marking the fourth-consecutive year in which the number of students seeking primary care positions increased, according to a report released Friday by the National Resident Matching Program, Modern Physician reports (Barr, Modern Physician, 3/15).
The release of the report coincided with Match Day, during which the students find out where they will spend the next three to seven years of their medical careers, USA Today reports.
Overall, about one-quarter of graduating medical students -- or 11,762 future physicians -- that applied for residencies under the annual National Resident Matching Program received placements in primary care
Most of the students accepted in primary care residency programs will serve in front-line specialties like internal medicine, pediatrics and family medicine.
In total, 29,141 positions were offered. Of the 2,399 new positions offered this year, 1,438 were offered in primary care. Of those primary care positions:
- 141 new positions were available in pediatrics;
- 297 new positions were available in family medicine; and
- 1,000 new positions were available in internal medicine.
U.S. medical students filled only about 50% of the available primary care positions, which typically pay less than specialty positions and require longer work hours (Lloyd, USA Today, 3/15). Meanwhile, 8,892 students were not matched with any program and 1,401 slots were not filled, according to NRMP (Modern Physician, 3/15).
However, USA Today reports that although there was a slight uptick in primary care residency matches, the increase is not expected to compensate for a looming shortage of primary care physicians.
A 9,000 shortfall of PCPs in 2010 is expected to increase to 65,000 by 2025, according to data projections. The primary care physician shortage is being spurred in part by a rapidly aging population and an increase in demand for primary care as millions of people gain insurance coverage in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act (USA Today, 3/15).
Reaction to Report
Officials at the Association of American Medical Colleges acknowledged the concerns about the physician shortage following the release of the report and urged the federal government to boost its support for graduate medical education programs.
AAMC President and CEO Darrell Kirch in a statement said, "To avert the coming shortage, we need to begin today to increase the overall supply of physicians in this country by lifting the cap on residency training programs imposed in 1997 by the Balanced Budget Act" (Modern Physician, 3/15).
Jeff Cain -- president of the American Academy of Family Physicians -- said the increase in primary care matches shows that the "[ACA] is putting more emphasis on the need for these kind of doctors," adding, "We welcome this news and expect the trend to continue" (USA Today, 3/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.