Trends in Career Choice by US Medical School Graduates

Dale A. Newton, Martha S. Grayson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

179 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Context: Trends in career choice among specialties have varied greatly. Most notable is the recent decrease in the percentage of US medical student graduates choosing a primary care career, which has important implications for the US physician workforce. Objective: To review temporal trends in career choice by graduates of allopathic US medical schools, focusing on US medical doctors entering residencies since 1987. Data Sources: Three databases, the Association of American Medical Colleges Graduation Questionnaire (AAMC GQ), the National Resident Matching Program, and the national Graduate Medical Education census, were used to review temporal trends in the number of US medical doctors entering residencies in primary care, general or subspecialty surgical, and non-primary care and nonsurgical specialties from 1987 to 2002. Data Synthesis: In 1987, 49.2% of all medical school graduates matched to one of the generalist residencies (internal medicine, pediatrics, or family medicine). The percentage of students matching to primary care specialties declined in the early 1990s, peaked at 53.2% in 1998, and declined to 44.2% in 2002. Concurrent with the latter decline, AAMC GQ data showed a decrease in medical student interest in primary care careers (35.6% in 1999 to 21.5% in 2002). The total percentage of US medical doctors matching to general or subspecialty surgical residencies remained stable at 11% to 12% from 1987 to 2002. During this same period, emergency medicine and plastic surgery increased as a match choice, while anesthesiology, pathology, and psychiatry were more variable over time. Conclusions: Distribution of medical students' career choices among specialties varied considerably from 1987 to 2002. The debate will continue regarding the appropriate specialty mix within the physician workforce.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1179-1182
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of the American Medical Association
Volume290
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 3 2003
Externally publishedYes

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Career Choice
Internship and Residency
Medical Schools
Primary Health Care
Medical Students
Physicians
Graduate Medical Education
Anesthesiology
Emergency Medicine
Information Storage and Retrieval
American Medical Association
Censuses
Plastic Surgery
Internal Medicine
Psychiatry
Medicine
Databases
Pediatrics
Pathology
Students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Trends in Career Choice by US Medical School Graduates. / Newton, Dale A.; Grayson, Martha S.

In: Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 290, No. 9, 03.09.2003, p. 1179-1182.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Newton, Dale A. ; Grayson, Martha S. / Trends in Career Choice by US Medical School Graduates. In: Journal of the American Medical Association. 2003 ; Vol. 290, No. 9. pp. 1179-1182.
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