March 6, 1996

The Initial Employment Status of Physicians Completing Training in 1994

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Research and Data Analysis, Division of Graduate Medical Education (Ms Miller) and the Medical Education Group (Dr Jonas), American Medical Association, Chicago, Ill; and Division of Medical Education, Association of American Medical Colleges, Washington, DC (Dr Whitcomb).

JAMA. 1996;275(9):708-712. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530330052029

Objective.  —To gain information about the career status of residents who completed graduate medical education training programs in selected specialties and subspecialties during the 1993-1994994 academic year.

Design.  —A descriptive one-page survey of residency program directors, including two mailed follow-up surveys, was conducted from January 1,1995, to June 1, 1995.

Setting.  —Directors of residency programs in 26 specialties and subspecialties accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, totaling 4369 programs.

Main Outcome Measures.  —Program directors identified the number of resident physicians who completed the program, the known career status of those physicians, the number of physicians who had experienced difficulty finding a practice position, the characteristics of the full-time clinical practice positions, and the number of physicians who could not find full-time employment. The perceptions about likely trends in the availability of practice opportunities for graduates in the future and the likely change in the number of resident positions were also assessed.

Results.  —A total of 3090 program directors (70.7%) completed the survey. Respondents reported that 15 999 resident physicians completed training in one of the 26 specialties and subspecialties, and 63.2% of these graduates were potentially seeking a professional position. Most of those not seeking a position were pursuing additional training (92.9%). Of those seeking employment, the percentage who did not find a full-time position in their specialty or subspecialty ranged between none in urology to 10.8% in pathology. Across all specialties, about 70% of graduates looking for full-time positions entered clinical practice in their specialty of training. Physicians pursuing generalist careers had fewer problems finding preferred positions than those pursuing nongeneralist specialties. Finally, program directors in most nongeneralist specialties believed that the degree of difficulty their graduates will experience in finding a full-time practice position will increase during the next year.

Conclusions.  —Physicians attempting to enter practice in some specialties and in some regions of the country are experiencing difficulty. In some cases up to 10% of the resident physicians did not find full-time positions in their specialty or subspecialty. The differences noted between the generalist and nongeneralist specialties are consistent with widespread perceptions about the current market. These data establish the baseline for analyzing trends.(JAMA. 1996;275:708-712)