Med students rush to primary care programs

med_students.ju.top.jpgA record percentage of family medicine residency slots were filled in 2011. By Parija Kavilanz, senior writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- After years of being the black sheep of the medical profession, family medicine is becoming more attractive to med students. The reason -- health reform.

Every year in March, medical school students are matched up with a training program in a specialty they want to pursue.

This year, family medicine residency programs not only saw a record 94% enrollment rate, they also added an additional 100 slots to accommodate the increased demand.

"Health reform is largely responsible for this upswing," said Dr. Roland Goertz, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Provisions in health reform, including measures to boost pay for primary care doctors caring for Medicaid patients, bonus payments to work in underserved areas and loan forgiveness, are encouraging students to pursue primary care.

"Health reform doesn't address all of our concerns but it has gotten students to think that primary care may not be so bad for their careers," he said.

This year, family medicine residency programs attracted 1,317 U.S. students -- 133 more than in 2010.

Goertz said the renewed interest in primary care among medical students is welcome and necessary at a time when the United States is suffering from a shortage pf primary care doctors.

"We've seen this shortage for the past 30 years," he said.

If the shortage continues, by 2020 the health care system will be 40,000 primary care doctors short.

Medical students have been shunning family medicine because specialists make considerably higher salaries.

Goertz said the difference in salaries has tripled in the last 20 years. "It used to be about a $50,000 difference. Now it's closer to $150,000," he said.

Primary care physicians, on average make about $150,000. Among non-primary care specialists, cardiologists on average earn $402,000, dermatologists about $375,000 and emergency medicine specialists about $267,000.

"You can't blame students for not opting for primary care when they carry about $160,000 in debt after they leave school," said Goertz. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,279.74 13.75 0.08%
Nasdaq 4,579.79 -13.64 -0.30%
S&P 500 2,010.40 -0.96 -0.05%
Treasuries 2.59 -0.04 -1.60%
Data as of 8:54pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Yahoo! Inc 40.93 -1.16 -2.74%
Microsoft Corp 47.52 0.84 1.80%
Bank of America Corp... 16.95 -0.09 -0.53%
Oracle Corp 39.80 -1.75 -4.21%
Facebook Inc 77.91 0.91 1.18%
Data as of Sep 19

Sections

The automaker is recalling Cadillac XTS and Chevrolet Impalas because of a problem with the electronic parking brake arm. More

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given more money than many western nations. More

It's really good to be Larry Ellison. The Oracle founder is stepping down as CEO, so maybe he'll have more time to enjoy his glamorous life. More

As Occupy Wall Street goes on its debt-abolishing tear, thousands of people across the country are begging them to forgive their loans. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.