FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Thursday, March 18, 2004
Senior Public Relations Strategist
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237 Ext. 5224
In a change from previous years, the number of medical students matching into family medicine residency positions has increased. Preliminary information from the annual National Resident Matching Program shows that 17 more family medicine residency positions were filled this year - 2,256 over the 2,239 filled last year. That is 78.8 percent of the family medicine residency positions offered."This increase, though small, is good news. It may signal a reversal of declining student interest in family medicine. It is essential that there be a continuous flow of students entering family medicine. Family physicians are the backbone of the American health system: they conduct more than 210 million office visits each year, 76 million more visits than any other medical specialty. Nearly one in four office visits to physicians are to family physicians. Without family physicians our health care system lacks the personal, integrated care people want and need."It is also important to note that 76 fewer family medicine residency positions were offered this year, continuing the decline that began in 1997. Family medicine residency programs are facing financial challenges, due in part to the reductions in payments that resulted from the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. Reduction in the annual federal appropriations for health professions training is adding pressure."Although the news is encouraging, we're concerned that for the seventh year in a row, the number of family medicine residency positions filled by U.S. seniors has declined. The decline was smaller than in recent years, but we in family medicine must encourage more U.S. medical school seniors to choose family medicine. U.S. medical school graduates tend to stay in the U.S. and care for patients here, while international medical graduates tend to return to their own countries."The American Academy of Family Physicians is working to ensure that this country doesn't lose its family doctors. While the number of filled family medicine residency positions went up this year, we must reverse the trend away from family medicine by U.S. medical students. I encourage others - patients, colleagues, medical school faculty, industry leaders and state and federal government - to fight for their right to a personal family physician, one specially trained to care for them throughout their years, in sickness and in health."
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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 115,900 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.
Approximately one in four of all office visits are made to family physicians. That is nearly 214 million office visits each year — nearly 74 million more than the next largest 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).
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March 18, 2004