Friday, October 14, 2016

OSU and The Primary Care Workforce

I enjoyed a visit to Ohio State for my 40th reunion of the Class of 1976 from the College of Medicine.  I have intense concerns about the Primary Care Physician Workforce.  A big flinch for me came with a comment from Dr. Quinn Capers, Dean of students at OSU College of Medicine, my alma mater, at the Alumni Meeting, that 41% of the graduates go into primary care specialties.  The stats when broken down on the slide listed Family Medicine 8.7% which is pretty accurate and consistent with national percentages.  The other specialties and percentages were NOT accurate and not consistent with national percentages of actual practicing physicians.  The numbers were accurate as to the percentage of students matched into those residency categories.  It is widely known, especially by the Alumni office, that less than 5% of those entering internal medicine residencies enter primary care practice.  Less than 10% of those entering pediatric training enter primary care pediatric practice.  I assume that Dr. Capers wanted to just give the match stats for senior students, not actual practicing physician stats, but he didn't say so.

Less than fifteen  percent of medical students actually enter a primary care practice.  "The Dean's Lie" as it's known in Family Medicine, is saying otherwise.  The only excuse for this could be that the federal support for residency training reimburses hospitals for residency training, giving extra "primary care training" money for ALL internal medicine training slots, even though less than 5% of the slots will actually train a primary care physician.

The creation of hospital medicine specialists has created thousands of jobs caring for hospitalized patients.  Increasing amounts of medical student debt plus these jobs equals a great opportunity for career and financial satisfaction and fewer residents selecting to practice primary care internal medicine or primary care pediatrics.

I was disappointed that the Dean gave no indication that the COM is sensitive to workforce needs and the national and Ohio dilemma with inadequate numbers of Primary Care physicians.  Some things never change.

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