Prepared but not practicing: declining pregnancy care among recent family medicine residency graduates

Fam Med. 2006 Jun;38(6):423-6.


Background and objectives: Pregnancy care has been an important component of family medicine in the Pacific Northwest. This paper describes a sudden decline in the provision of pregnancy care by recent family medicine residency graduates in the region.

Methods: Two cohorts of graduates from the University of Washington Family Medicine Residency Network were surveyed about their current pregnancy care practice patterns. A total of 205 graduates from 1997-1999 (surveyed in 2000) and 223 graduates from 2000-2002 (surveyed in 2003) completed the surveys (69% and 65% response rates).

Results: From 2000 to 2003, there was a 20% decline in the proportion of recent family medicine residency graduates performing deliveries in their practice (78% versus 58%). The proportion performing prenatal care declined from 81% to 64%. Graduates from all the programs across the region rated their preparation for the practice of pregnancy care highly, regardless of whether or not they currently provided such care. In addition to graduation cohort, the provision of pregnancy care was also related to practicing in the Washington, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho (WAMI) region, providing hospital care, and feeling well prepared to provide pregnancy care. (Wyoming residency programs became affiliated with the WAMI network in 2003 and are not included in this analysis.)

Conclusions: Fewer new family physicians are providing pregnancy care in the Pacific Northwest. This decline does not appear to be related to training but threatens access to service for patients.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Family Practice*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • Male
  • Northwestern United States
  • Obstetrics / education*
  • Refusal to Treat / statistics & numerical data*