Residency Census Report: Family Medicine Attracts More US Medical School Graduates

Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013

Leslie Champlin
Senior Public Relations Strategist
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237 Ext. 6252

LEAWOOD, Kan. —  The number of US medical school graduates who choose family medicine has seen a steady increase in the past decade, and this year is no exception. According to the residency census conducted annually by the American Academy of Family Physicians, more than 67 percent of first-year family medicine residents graduated from US allopathic or osteopathic medical schools. The percentage of US medical school graduates has increased annually since 2009, when only 58 percent chose family medicine.

“This is another indicator that medical students realize primary care is the foundation of health care,” said Perry Pugno, MD, vice president for medical education at the AAFP. “The number of students choosing family medicine in the annual Match continues to increase, and the attendance at the AAFP’s National Conference for Family Medicine Residents and Medical Students has really increased. All of these point to a trend toward primary care careers.”

Medical school graduates matching to family medicine residency positions grew for the fourth consecutive year in 2013. Likewise, attendance at the National Conference for Medical Students and Residents was 3,542, up from 3,370 in 2012 and 3,182 in 2011.

“Taken together, these show the ship may be turning,” said Pugno. “But it isn’t turning fast enough to meet future needs, given the demand that will grow as a result of the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of insurance coverage and the aging of our population.”

Health care policy makers project a serious shortage of all primary care health professionals, due to several factors. Subspecialization is one of the greatest influences, as 64 percent of nurse practitioners work in subspecialty areas, 67 percent of physician assistants subspecialize and 70 percent of physicians subspecialize.

“As health care education policies such as community-based teaching health centers are more fully implemented and we reform our health system to focus on the quality of care and not the quantity of services, we’ll see continued interest in primary care,” Pugno said. “I believe there’s a broad-based understanding in the country that we need to grow the primary care physician workforce, and students are recognizing that family medicine is a specialty that will meet their professional goals and gives them a future that includes both personal and professional satisfaction.”

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Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 134,600 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five of the total medical office visits in the United States per year – more than any other specialty. Family physicians provide comprehensive, evidence-based, and cost-effective care dedicated to improving the health of patients, families and communities. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing and personal patient-physician relationship where the family physician serves as the hub of each patient’s integrated care team. More Americans depend on family physicians than on any other medical specialty.

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