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May 13, 2009

Oversimplifying Primary Care Supply and Shortages

JAMA. 2009;301(18):1920-1922. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.619

Recent reports have warned of a crisis related to a shortage of primary care physicians.1 However, much of the current concern seems to have stemmed from articles in the medical literature specifically reporting that fewer internal medicine residents are choosing to pursue primary care and that fewer medical students are choosing family medicine residencies. Hauer et al2 found, among a national sample of fourth-year medical students, that only 22% planned careers in internal medicine and just 2% intended to practice general internal medicine. Ebell3 hypothesized that fewer medical students are choosing primary care specialties as a result of lower salaries relative to other specialties. It is important to note that the results of his trend-line analysis showed this was true only for family physicians.

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