Bear markets and primary care

An occasional snapshot of current facts and trends in medicine.

Quick View. Posted May 9, 2005

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The worse the economy, the lower the interest new doctors have in going into a primary care specialty.

Portion of new doctors choosing specialty
Total (FP, IM, Peds) Family Medicine Internal Medicine Pediatric Dow Jones
1991 41.3% 10.6% 20.7% 10.0% 2,964
1992 41.5% 10.8% 20.6% 10.1% 3,296
1993 41.9% 12.6% 19.0% 10.3% 3,538
1994 43.9% 14.0% 19.3% 10.6% 3,793
1995 46.2% 15.4% 19.9% 10.9% 4,534
1996 49.1% 17.0% 20.5% 11.6% 5,780
1997 49.9% 17.3% 20.8% 11.8% 7,438
1998 50.0% 16.0% 21.5% 12.5% 8,610
1999 48.3% 14.7% 20.9% 12.7% 10,475
2000 46.4% 13.5% 20.8% 12.1% 10,688
2001 43.4% 11.1% 20.7% 11.6% 10,140
2002 42.3% 10.4% 20.3% 11.6% 9,181
2003 40.5% 9.2% 19.4% 11.9% 9,018
2004 39.8% 8.7% 19.2% 11.9% 10,293

Researchers of a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine looked at the Dow Jones index for the past 14 years and found that when the market slowed -- as it did in 2002 -- physicians were less likely to go into family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics. Mark D. Schwartz, MD, the study's lead author, suggests that general medicine disciplines should unite to seek medical school applicants interested in primary care and change medical training curriculum and culture that now tend to encourage students to specialize rather than go into primary care.

Source: "Rekindling Student Interest in Generalist Careers," Annals of Internal Medicine, April 19

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