Family Medicine Gains 133 U.S. Medical School Graduates in 2011 Residency Match

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   
Thursday, March 17, 2011

Contact:
Leslie Champlin
Senior Public Relations Strategist
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237 Ext. 5224
lchampli@aafp.org

Family medicine residency training programs this year attracted 1,317 U.S. medical school graduates to the specialty — an increase of 133 over 2010 — according to the National Residency Matching Program results announced today.

Known as the Match, the program aligns graduating medical students with residency training programs in specialties they want to pursue. In this year’s Match, the total number of students choosing family medicine — which includes U.S. medical school graduates and international medical graduates — was 2,576, up from 2,404 in 2010. This year’s “fill rate” is a record 94.4 percent. Moreover, family medicine residency programs offered an additional 100 positions this year.

All of the increases suggest an upswing in interest among U.S. medical school graduates, according to Roland Goertz, MD, MBA, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. Goertz attributed the 2011 Match results to greater appreciation of the importance of family medicine in our overall health system and an increased understanding of it as a good career choice for medical school graduates.

“This year’s results mark the second consecutive year of increased interest in family medicine,” Goertz said. “Although several factors likely contribute to the increase, we believe an important element is recognition that primary care medicine is absolutely essential if we are to improve the quality of health care and help control its costs. Of course, sustaining this interest will require continuing changes in the way America pays for and delivers health care to patients.”

Primary medical care has become more visible to medical students as a result of overall national and community discussions about needed health care reform, numerous reports on increasing student interest and reforming medical education, and consistent outreach through Family Medicine Interest Groups, according to Goertz.

Organized on all medical school campuses, FMIGs are student outreach groups that provide programs and information that may not be offered in the medical school curriculum. In addition to learning about the history and future of family medicine as a specialty, students are exposed to a range of clinical skills and procedures that are important to family medicine practice.

“Primary care has become much more visible as a result of the discussion about improving our health care system,” he said. “More people understand that if we’re to have high quality care at a controllable cost, we need to rebalance our system on a foundation of primary medical care.

Add in the heightened awareness through activities of the Family Medicine Interest Groups, and students began to understand that family physicians will be able to practice the kind of medicine they envisioned when they decided to become a doctor.”

Additional information about research into increasing student interest, reforming medical education and legislative initiatives to solve the primary care physician workforce are available at the following links:

  • Council on Graduate Medical Education 20th Report(www.hrsa.gov), “Advancing Primary Care,” which “dramatic” and swift changes in policies to increase the supply of primary care physicians.
  • “Graduate Medical Education: The Key to the Future of Primary Care?” (www.medicaleducationfutures.org)which calls for modifying graduate medical education funding to increase the number of graduating primary care physicians.
  • Medical Education Expansion and the Future of Primary Care(www.medicaleducationfutures.org), which calls for changing medical school admissions policies to increase the number of students likely to choose primary care.
  • Rural Origins and Choosing Family Medicine Predict Future Rural Practice, which summarizes research identifying students most likely to practice in underserved areas.
  • A Recipe for Medical Schools to Produce Primary Care, which outlines the contours of medical school admissions policies, curriculum development and training opportunities that will encourage more students to become primary care physicians
  • What Influences Medical Student and Resident Choices?(www.graham-center.org), which identifies measurable characteristics, intentions, and training experiences that are significant predictors of who chooses primary medical care specialties.
  • State Legislative Activity Addressing Physician Workforce
  • Family Medicine Interest Groups provide effective outreach to students

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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 124,900 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five office visits -- that’s 192 million visits annually or 48 percent more than to the next most visited medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care.

To learn more about the specialty of family medicine, the AAFP's positions on issues and clinical care, and for downloadable multi-media highlighting family medicine, visit www.aafp.org/media. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website, www.FamilyDoctor.org(www.familydoctor.org).