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Match day underscores interest in primary care


By Paul Barr
Posted: March 15, 2013 - 1:00 pm ET
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Primary care was a winner in this year's National Resident Matching Program match day, with the number of students choosing primary-care specialties rising by nearly 400 to 7,328, according to the NRMP, which brings together specialty programs with applicants using a computer program based on the preferences of both.

Primary care is getting more attention as a result of expected changes to healthcare, said Dr. Wayne Riley, president and CEO of Meharry Medical College in Nashville. Meharry saw the percentage of its matches in primary care (not counting OB/GYN) rise to 62% from 53% last year, Riley said.

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Meharry has historically graduated a higher percentage of students matching into primary-care programs, Riley noted. “We have invested a lot in primary care,” he said.

But in light of healthcare reform, “a lot of our students are recognizing that primary care is a good calling,” Riley said.

The number of actual matches in primary care also rose, though those totals were affected by a change in NRMP policy that requires participating medical school programs to include all of their open slots. There were 1,000 more places offered in internal medicine, 297 more in family medicine and 141 more in pediatrics, according to the NRMP.

For the same reasons, the number of total positions in the program rose by about 2,400 to 29,171.

“The success of this match means that the all-in policy is working,” said Mona Signer, executive director of the NRMP. “I am extremely excited,” she said.

There were 1,041 slots left unfilled and the 8,892 students who did not match—an increase of 471 students compared with last year—can apply for most of those slots through the NRMP's supplemental program.

The Association of American Medical Colleges expressed concern about a future shortage of physicians and urged the government to support for graduate medical education.

“While we are waiting to learn the exact number of unmatched students, the reports coming from our member medical schools are cause for significant concern, and demonstrate the urgent need to increase federal support for graduate medical education,” AAMC President and CEO Dr. Darrell Kirch said in statement.

“To avert the coming shortage, we need to begin today to increase the overall supply of physicians in this country by lifting the cap on residency training positions imposed in 1997 by the Balanced Budget Act.”


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