It’s been widely reported in the media that there is a shortage of primary care physicians which will only increase as the Affordable Care Act is implemented. Several medical schools are making valiant efforts to increase the ranks of primary doctors by increasing the size of their incoming classes. New medical schools have also been established to try to meet this need; 17 new medical schools have opened in the last 8 years.
In addition, several medical schools are establishing specific residency programs and other means to appeal to those who want to pursue primary care. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) predicts a shortage of 45,000 primary care doctors in just 7 years. Data also show that only about 20% of medical school graduates pursue careers in primary care fields (internal medicine, family medicine, and pediatrics, as defined by the AAMC). There are many reasons students choose not to pursue primary care, as detailed in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal titled, “In Search of More Primary Care Doctors.”
Harvard’s Center for Primary Care was founded in 2010 to promote primary care and one of its missions is to “develop and implement a premier, integrated, and multidisciplinary primary care curriculum that is well-suited to the topnotch future doctors and scientists who attend Harvard Medical School.” Johns Hopkins has established the Medicine-Pediatrics Urban Health Residency Program, which is “designed to train primary care physicians in an urban inner-city environment.” (The quotes are taken from each school’s website.)
The University of California-Riverside School of Medicine was established specifically to meet the need for more primary care physicians in California. The College of Medicine at Central Michigan University aims to meet the needs of rural and underserved regions of Michigan; a majority of the first class of 64 came from rural regions of the state and Michigan has provided financial incentives—it will pay back the loans students assumed to go to medical school—to students who ultimately decide to practice in the neediest sections of the state. These are only some of the novel and exciting programs being established to try to address the shortage of primary care physicians.
–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consulting