Background: While the number of internal medicine-pediatrics (med/peds) residency training programs has increased considerably in the past decade, questions continue to be raised about career paths of the graduates of these programs. It is uncertain whether med/peds graduates follow a generalist career path and whether they continue to practice both specialties.
Objective: To determine the career outcomes of graduates of med/peds residency programs.
Design: A survey questionnaire of graduates of med/peds residency programs.
Methods: The computer databases of the American Board of Pediatrics and the American Board of Internal Medicine were used to identify 1482 individuals who had completed training in combined med/peds residency programs between 1986 and 1995 and who had applied to either board for certification. The survey questionnaire was mailed to all graduates identified.
Main outcome measures: Time spent in professional activity (patient care, teaching, administration, and research), site of principal clinical activity, ages of the patient population, types of hospital privileges, practice organization, subspecialty activity, night and weekend coverage arrangements, community size of practice, involvement in teaching, and membership in professional organizations.
Results: Of the total group of 1482 graduates, 87.3% are certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine, 91.3% by the American Board of Pediatrics, and 81.6% by both boards. The survey was completed by 1005 graduates (67.8%). The principal activity of almost 70% of the graduates was direct patient care. Most graduates cared for patients of all ages. More than half of all respondents noted that their principal clinical site is a community office practice. Eighty-five percent managed patients who require hospitalization. Approximately 50% of respondents had a medical school appointment.
Conclusions: This study, the largest survey to date of med/peds graduates, provides strong evidence that most med/peds graduates are practicing generalists who care for adults and children. In addition, the fact that 80% of graduates achieve dual board certification suggests that these physicians are well qualified to care for the spectrum of health care needs of children and adults. Because the changing US health care system mandates a strong primary care base, these physicians will play a small but important role in providing high-quality generalist care.