More medical students match
into family medicine residencies in 2011
By Monica Kortsha
Results from the 2011 residency match released by the National Resident Matching Program on March 17 show an uptick in the number of medical school graduates pursuing careers in family medicine.
Of the almost 38,000 applicants who participated in the 2011 match, 2,576 chose family medicine residencies, filling 94.4 percent of the 2,730 spots available. One hundred additional family medicine residency spots were offered this year.
Of U.S. medical school seniors, 1,317 choose a residency in family medicine, an 11-percent increase over last year. This is the third time in over a decade that the number of U.S. seniors choosing family medicine increased compared to the previous year, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. The other two years were 2008 and 2010.
Family medicine had the strongest growth out of the primary care residencies, but pediatrics and internal medicine also showed an increase in applicants. Three of the categories of pediatrics and internal medicine are considered primary care; two of these filled with more U.S. seniors in 2011 than in 2010. Twenty-six more positions filled in internal medicine primary care in 2011 when compared with 2010 and one more position was filled in pediatrics-primary in 2011 than in 2010.
The most competitive residency programs among U.S. seniors were dermatology, orthopedic surgery, otolaryngology, plastic surgery, radiation oncology, thoracic surgery, and vascular surgery. Of these residencies, each filled 90 percent or more with U.S. medical graduates.
The increase in the number of medical students choosing to pursue primary care may be influenced by national health care reform and family medicine interest groups, or FMIGs, said AAFP President Roland Goertz, M.D., M.B.A., of Waco, in an AAFP news article.
“Primary care has become much more visible as a result of the discussion about improving our health care system. More people understand that if we’re to have high-quality care at a controllable cost, we need to balance our system on a foundation of primary medical care.”
FMIGs, which are organized at all medical schools across the country, are also helping to foster interest in family medicine by providing information on the future of the field as well as exposure to clinical procedures. While the increased interest in family medicine is encouraging, the numbers are not nearly enough to provide adequate health care coverage in the United States, according to a report by the Council on Graduate Medical Education. At least 40 percent of U.S. physicians need to practice primary care to ensure access and to keep costs under control, the authors stated. To do this, the workforce needs 163,000 additional primary care doctors.
The more than 2,000 medical students who chose to pursue family medicine this year is a start; however, changes are still needed to encourage more medical students to choose primary care.