Medical Student Interest in Family Medicine Continues to Grow

Friday, March 21, 2014


LEAWOOD, Kan. — Interest in family medicine continued its upward trend for the fifth consecutive year, according to the 2014 National Residency Matching Program results released today. This year, 1,416 U.S. medical school graduates matched to family medicine residency training, up 333 since 2009 and an increase of 42 over last year.

Known as the Match, the NRMP aligns graduating medical students with residency training programs in specialties the students want to pursue. The total number of students choosing family medicine — which includes U.S. medical school graduates and international medical graduates — was 3,000 compared to 2,329 in 2009 and an increase from 2,938 in 2013.

“We’re pleased that this trend is continuing, but it needs to accelerate. As each new first-year class of family medicine residents grows, so does our ability to meet the need for high quality primary medical care,” said Reid Blackwelder, MD, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. “The AAFP’s most recent analysis of the primary care workforce shows if we add 65 family medicine residency positions annually through 2025, we will be producing 4,475 family physicians each year. At that rate, we will be able to meet demand for family physicians.”

Blackwelder attributed the trend in interest in family medicine to the impact of the Affordable Care Act, which is increasing the importance of primary care medicine in an evolving health care system.

“The health care system is changing from a reactionary one that throws expensive treatments and procedures at possibly preventable diseases,” Blackwelder said. “The future health care system must work to prevent illness and — if a condition does develop — to provide comprehensive and coordinated care that prevents avoidable complications. That kind of change relies on the expertise of family physicians and other primary care physicians, and medical students see their growing importance in health care.”

The Affordable Care Act supports that evolution through several provisions, including Medicare incentive payment for primary care services provided by a primary care physician and bringing Medicaid payment for primary care up to Medicare levels. It also supports Teaching Health Centers, which train primary care physicians in community-based programs, often in underserved communities.

“Many of the ACA provisions align well with policies the AAFP advocates, and they’re working,” Blackwelder said. He pointed to the AAFP’s Four Pillars for Primary Care Workforce Development( and noted many of that document’s tenets are embodied in the ACA as well.

“The continued growth of medical student interest in family medicine shows that the ACA support of primary care, like the policies we advocate, will build the primary care physician workforce and meet the demand for care,” Blackwelder said. “However, our work is not done as we need even more of an increase each year in order to meet the workforce needs of our country, and provide the care our patients deserve. We must have increased efforts of our legislators to incentivize primary care as one critical step to attracting more medical students into family medicine so that with next year’s match we can celebrate further steps in the right direction.”

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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 136,700 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the largest 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 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,