Medical school graduates' interest in primary-care careers is rising, with more than one-fifth now wanting to enter generalist practices, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
The AAMC's 1994 survey of nearly 13,000 medical school graduates showed that 22.8% are seeking careers in family practice, general internal medicine or general pediatrics. The results mark the second straight year interest in primary care has increased after hitting bottom in 1992, when only 14.6% of graduates wanted to be generalists.
"I think we are seeing the beginning of a turnaround," said Jordan Cohen, M.D., AAMC's president. "We are encouraged that these numbers represent more than just a transient blip on our screen."
But Dr. Cohen noted that national physician work-force requirements demand that half of medical school graduates enter generalist careers.
The percentage of students wanting to enter family practice has increased the most, up 4.1 percentage points since 1992 to 13.1%. The percentage of students interested in general internal medicine has risen 3 percentage points to 6.2%. In general pediatrics, interest has risen 1 percentage point to 3.4%.
Data from the AAMC survey and another annual survey of graduating residents also indicate a heightened interest in entering a private clinical group practice rather than solo or partnership practices.
The AAMC survey shows that 36.5% of medical school graduates specified private group practices of three or more physicians as the first choice for where they would like to pursue their career, while only 2.3% wanted to become solo practitioners, and 6.1% wanted to enter a two-physician partnership.
A 1994 survey conducted by the American Academy of Family Physicians echoed that data, finding that 40.6% of graduating family practice residents wanted to enter a family-practice group, up by 19.5 percentage points since 1983.
Over the same time, meanwhile, the percentage of family practice residents who wanted to enter two-partner practices dropped to 8.9% from 15.4%, and the percentage wanting to start solo practices fell to 6.2% from 15.9%, the academy's survey found.