Predicting career decisions in primary care medicine: a theoretical analysis

J Contin Educ Health Prof. 2003 Spring;23(2):68-80. doi: 10.1002/chp.1340230204.


Entering the 1960s, more than half of the medical doctors in the United States were family physicians, pediatricians, or general internists. Today, about one-third of all U.S. physicians are primary care practitioners. Although opinions vary on the optimal ratio of primary care to specialty physicians, in the mid-1990s, the consensus among leaders in medicine was that more primary care physicians would be needed to ensure access to quality care. The target output of graduates was set for a minimum of 50% primary care physicians, and medical school admission committees responded. The present study examines research related to career decision making in primary care medicine. We address career decision making in primary care with the expectation that selection of a medical residency is based on multiple factors, and multivariate statistical techniques comprise the most appropriate statistical procedure for developing predictive models of medical student residency choice. Additional multivariate studies for simultaneous analysis of multiple dependent and multiple independent variables are needed to determine whether health policy planners and medical schools should continue to address the distribution of primary care physicians through medical school admissions. Further to enabling prediction, researchers must renew efforts to base investigations on theoretical models, summarizing and organizing previous research, and providing one another with means to focus future studies while building on previous work.

MeSH terms

  • Career Choice*
  • Decision Making
  • Family Practice / education
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Internal Medicine / economics
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Michigan
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Pediatrics / economics
  • Physicians, Family / supply & distribution*
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Workforce