Money and status
Fam Pract Manag. 2004 Sep;11(8):14.
To the Editor:
“Recommendations for the Future of Family Medicine” appears to be right on the mark. Given the demonstrated relationship between the health of a country’s primary care system and the health of its population, the project should be an issue of national attention that requires immediate intervention.
Some of the many problems facing family medicine today include the increasing number of nonphysician providers who are demanding more traditional primary medicine functions and who are, in some cases, even calling themselves physicians; the non-family-physicians who are advertising “complete family care”; and the lack of public education about the specialty. However, two major problems with our specialty override all other considerations: 1) the staggering disparity in incomes between family physicians and other specialists, and 2) our status in the public’s mind and, of greater concern, our fellow physicians’ minds.
The dwindling interest in family medicine can be attributed in part to both problems, but for current students, financial considerations are of primary concern. There is no escaping that today’s investment-to-return ratio makes family medicine an increasingly rare choice. Unless this is fixed quickly, our numbers will continue to decline given the increasing practice operating costs, low reimbursements and rising medical school costs.
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