Growth in Allopathic Medical Schools Doesn't Translate into More Family Medicine Graduates

A study published in the February 1 issue of American Family Physician shows that increasing the number of allopathic medical schools does not ensure a corresponding increase of graduates choosing the Family Medicine specialty.

While the total number of U.S. graduates who entered a Family Medicine residency program rose 64% over the past 10 years, the proportion of allopathic medical school graduates who chose Family Medicine during that time period remained constant at around 50%.

Comparatively, osteopathic physicians entering Family Medicine residency increased 164%--likely due to the shift toward the single graduate medical education accreditation system—and U.S. international medical graduates matching into Family Medicine rose 85%.

“We need to look at how family medicine markets itself and recruits students,” said researcher Robert Baillieu, MD, MPH, immediate past Robert L. Phillips Jr. Health Policy Fellow at the Robert Graham Center. “Primary care physicians are the first doctors people see, and then continue to see. Family physicians care for all ages, all conditions and practice in every environment. We are empowered to speak on behalf of the communities we serve. No other specialty does that. It is imperative that we reinvigorate how we market our specialty and recruit new colleagues. We must let all students know how important and exciting family medicine is.”