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March 22, 1995

What Is Balance in the Physician Workforce?-Reply

JAMA. 1995;273(12):916. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520360029021

In Reply.  —There can be no disagreement about whether more medical students should choose primary care, or that all students need generalist skills. But there are questions about degree and approach. I believe 50% is too many, and regulation is the wrong mechanism.Drs Greer and Petersdorf want no quibbling with the 50% solution. At the same time, Mr Kobrinski and Dr Mansfield are attempting to better define primary care (the Institute of Medicine is doing the same), and others are examining a variety of issues relevant to the physician workforce.1-4 Continued research is badly needed—to illuminate, not obfuscate.Medicine is entering an unprecedented era of physician abundance—an abundance of both primary care physicians and specialists. Our data indicate that a 33%-67% mix of career paths for new physicians (a significant increment in primary care over the recent experience) would create what might be termed "balanced abundance," ie, too

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