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Analysis in Brief

Each online issue of Analysis in Brief (AIB) tackles an academic medicine research topic, and presents a two-page, easy-to-read snapshot of the AAMC’s data collection and research activities. Topics are selected through a peer-review process and support the association’s strategic research agenda.  The reports not only present data, but also provide context on the issues, interpretation of results and trends, and discussion of the policy and practical implications of the results—all of which may help to facilitate institutional and policy improvements at medical schools and teaching hospitals.

In addition to the latest issue highlighted here, you can access the Analysis in Brief archives and download the free PDF reports.

Primary Care Physicians Who Graduated from U.S. Medical Schools: Trends in Specialty, Gender, and Race and Ethnicity

In recent years, a prominent physician workforce issue in the United States has been that the supply of physicians does not match societal needs, including in primary care specialties. This Analysis in Brief reviews the trends of primary care physicians for MDs who graduated from LCME-accredited U.S. medical schools over the past three decades, paying special attention to the specialties of family/general medicine, general internal medicine, and pediatrics; differences in gender and race and ethnicity; and the proportion of primary care physicians by race and ethnicity. Results show, for example, that from 1980 to 1992, the annual number of MD physicians who graduated from medical schools and went on to practice primary care was around 4,000, and between 1993 and 1999 these numbers increased. However, in 2002 the trend began to decline, and the annual numbers dropped below 4,000 between 2003 and 2007. Results also show that although the trend has fluctuated, Black, American Indian or Alaska Native, and Latino physicians are more consistently practicing primary care than their Asian and white physician counterparts. Myriad factors could help address the physician shortage issue, but one factor relative to the supply of primary care physicians this analysis suggests is that minority medical school students have been shown as major contributors to the primary care physician workforce in the United States. Therefore, if more minority students are enrolled in medicine, it will hold significance for the supply of primary care physicians.

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