Background and objectives: The Future of Family Medicine report advocated experimentation with 4-year residency training models. This study examines residency applicants' opinions about extending the length of residency training and seeks to determine which features of an extended program would be most desirable to applicants.
Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional, descriptive, self-administered survey of residency applicant interviewees at Oregon's three family medicine residency training programs in 2004-2005. The survey included questions about demographics, factors influencing specialty choice, desirability of longer training programs, and desirability of certain types of additional training.
Results: A total of 155 surveys were returned, for an 89.1% response rate. Only 6% of respondents indicated that length of training was "very important" to their specialty choice; 85.0% indicated a preference for a 4-year program with or without specific experiences; 77.2% indicated that extended training would either increase their likelihood of choosing family medicine or would not affect their decision; and 79.3% indicated that a 4-year residency would not make them less likely to choose family medicine over other primary care specialties. Pregnancy care, trauma care, adolescent/child health, and procedural skills were the most commonly desired areas for additional training.
Conclusions: Lengthening training to 4 years would have a neutral or positive effect on applicants' interest in family medicine training in Oregon.