Future of Family Medicine and Implications for Primary Care Physician Supply

Research center:
Lead researcher:
Project funded:
September 2005
Project completed:
July 2010

This project is investigating the implications of the declining medical student interest in pursuing careers in primary care, particularly as this impacts rural and underserved areas of the nation. It explores sociological and economic factors as well as national and regional policies that have contributed to this trend. Analyses are being conducted with data from multiple sources, including the American Association of Medical Colleges, the 2005 American Medical Association Masterfile and the American Osteopathic Association Masterfile, the annual family medicine residency director's survey, local data on medical students' interests from the University of Washington School of Medicine, our 2001 family medicine residency director survey, data from the Robert Graham Center, and the literature.

Specifically, this study describes recent trends in medical student interest and national match rates for family medicine and primary care; describes related trends such as the increasing proportion of women generalist physicians, who are less likely to practice in remote rural settings; describes the potential impact of reductions in the number of primary care physicians on the health of the nation, especially in rural and underserved areas; discusses implications of declining interest in primary care on the national and regional health workforce; and recommends policy options for counteracting the current trends in declining medical student interest on primary care.