Data Show U.S. Medical Schools Failing To Produce the Primary Care Physician Workforce the Nation Needs

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Leslie Champlin
Senior Public Relations Strategist
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237, Ext. 5224

LEAWOOD, Kan. — US taxpayers are not getting what they’re paying for from publicly funded medical schools – particularly those without family medicine departments, according to a study in the October Family Medicine.

The annual study, “Entry of U.S. Medical School Graduates Into Family Medicine Residencies: 2014–2015,(” reports on the effectiveness of medical schools in producing a primary care physician workforce that will meet the nation’s needs.

The study found that of the 3,595 medical students who went into family medicine residency training, less than half graduated from U.S. medical schools. Publicly funded schools graduated more students into family medicine, and schools with a department or division of family medicine fared even better. Among the study’s findings:

  • Sixty-two percent of MD-granting schools were publicly funded; they produced almost double the percentage of graduates entering family medicine residencies as did private schools. 
  • However, not all publicly funded schools were the same – approximately half of the MD-granting public schools produced 80 percent the graduates who chose family medicine residency programs.
  • The 11 medical schools that don't have family medicine departments or divisions sent a total of 26 students into family medicine.
  • Among all public and private medical schools, 21 graduated 20 or more students who selected family medicine.
  • Doctor of osteopathy schools did better; in eight of the 28 DO-granting medical schools, 20 percent of graduates chose family medicine and 14 DO-granting schools graduated 20 or more students who selected family medicine.
  • Medical schools west of the Mississippi represent only one-third of all U.S. M.D.-granting schools, but the rate of students from those schools who selected family medicine was two-thirds higher than the rate among students who graduated from medical schools east of the Mississippi.

“There is wide variation in production of graduates entering into family medicine among schools that have departments or divisions of family medicine,” Kozakowski wrote. “However, schools without departments or divisions of family medicine consistently produce fewer students entering family medicine.”

The data demonstrate a consistent pattern of MD-granting schools’ failure to meet the nation’s need for a strong primary care physician workforce, according to Kozakowski.

“The unique position of the U.S. medical schools as the gateway to the physician workforce, and considerable public financing, demands that schools be held accountable to the needs of the population,” Kozakowski wrote. “Creating a primary care workforce to address those needs must be an important part of their compact with society. “This annual report highlights the failure of the US MD-granting schools to deliver on a key measure of social responsibility that is to deliver a primary care workforce that meets the needs of the population.”




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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 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(5 page PDF) on issues and clinical care, and for downloadable multi-media highlighting family medicine, visit For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website,