The study, which appears in the medical-education-themed Dec. 5 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, fuels concerns that there will be a shortage of primary-care doctors available when patients need them most.
Researchers surveyed internal medicine residents about their career plans. Of nearly 17,000 third-year residents, only 21.5 percent were planning on a career as an internal medicine doctor. This included about 40 percent of students in a primary-care residency program and about 20 percent of those in a categorical residency program. These are two different tracks available within an internal medicine residency program.
Women were more likely to choose internal medicine than men, and U.S. medical school graduates were slightly more likely to opt for a career in internal medicine than international graduates, the study showed.
“This is worrisome,” said study author Dr. Colin West, an internist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “In the next decade, we will be 50,000 primary-care physicians short for the needs of the country.”