Blog | Friday, February 22, 2013

QD: News Every Day--With 7 million patients facing a primary care shortfall, two-thirds of pre-med students mull specialty careers

Seven million people live in areas where the expected increase in demand for providers is greater than 10% of supply, and 44 million people live in areas with an expected increase in demand above 5% of supply, a study found.

Health care reform will likely demand 7,200 additional primary care providers, or 2.5% of the current supply, researchers reported in Health Affairs. This is unlikely to cause disruptions across the board, but rural regions will likely bear the brunt of the shortfall.

Policies to encourage primary care providers to work in these areas of shortage may be as important as policies aimed at increasing the overall supply, the authors noted.

Meanwhile, more than two-thirds of students considering medical school plan to becomes specialists rather than go into primary care, according to a survey of those who used services of a test prep company.

The survey of 543 students who used Kaplan Test Prep services for their MCATs found that 68% say they plan to become specialists, with 86% say the main reason as academic/personal interest. Only 2% cited better salary.

Also, the survey reported that 71% would prefer a three-year medical school program to a four-year option, with all other factors being equal. Medical schools are offering this option, often to encourage students to enter primary care and to get them into communities faster.

A Kaplan spokesperson noted that medical school debt is a notorious factor.