NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

MEDICAL RESIDENTS SPECIALIZING

July 28, 2005

Since the 1980s, medical school graduates have taken more spots in fields such as psychiatry, radiology and dermatology, leaving hospitals to fill many internal medicine and family practice slots with international students, says the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Medical experts worry that they will be unable to stop the slide and are concerned that there will be an abundance of doctors who can replace hips, but an absence of ones who can cure bronchitis.

  • In 2005, U.S. medical school graduates accounted for 56 percent of residency positions in internal medicine, compared with almost 72 percent in 1985.
  • Nationwide, foreign medical school graduates accounted for about 26 percent of all residency positions in 2005.

This trend can be contributed to lifestyle and money concerns, since many specialists receive higher salaries than internal medicine and family practice physicians.

To cure this epidemic, medical experts prescribe a few possible solutions:

  • Offer residents a more realistic portrayal of what internal medicine entails, such as basic versus intensive care.
  • Bring physicians' paychecks onto the same playing field as specialists'.

If the trend continues, many experts worry that a serious health crisis will occur, since there will be an influx of sub-specialists, and not enough generalists, says the Inquirer.

Source: Dawn Fallik, "Medical residents specializing," Philadelphia Inquirer, July 16, 2005.

 

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