Many Medical Students Have Negative Views of Becoming Physicians

As graduation approaches, and medical students prepare for their residencies, many have negative views of their futures as physicians — especially primary care physicians — according to a multi-
school study from the University of Michigan (U-M) Health System.

A majority of medical students surveyed at U-M, Brown University and Michigan State University between 2006 and 2008 said they believed both primary care and specialty physicians had numerous
disadvantages, including too much administrative work, too little control over their work schedules, and lack of time to develop strong patient relationships.

“Physicians sometimes struggle to meet the high expectations set by patients and their profession with limited time and resources, and students are paying attention to that struggle,” said lead study author Julie Phillips, M.D., M.P.H.

Students surveyed had an especially grim view of entering primary care, researchers noted. In 2010, only 14 percent of medical students nationwide entered family medicine, medicine-pediatrics, primary care internal medicine or primary care pediatrics. The American College of Physicians has predicted a shortage of 35,000 to 44,000 adult primary care physicians by 2025.

Given this looming shortage in PCPs, improvements in the work life of these doctors are necessary to attract more students to the primary care workforce, researchers note. One suggestion is to broaden to definition of primary care to include a more diverse set of fields.

Source: University of Michigan Health System, May 15, 2012

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