Background: Combined internal medicine-pediatrics (med-peds) programs may be competing for the same students who would have otherwise chosen family medicine. The degree to which this is happening is not known.
Methods: We sent an eight-item questionnaire to new med-peds interns to assess their career plans at different stages of their decision making. Questionnaires were mailed to the directors of all US med-peds programs in 2002.
Results: A total of 288/333 (87%) responded. The med-peds interns were more likely to be interested in internal medicine or pediatrics than they were in family medicine. If med-peds were not available, only 52/286 (18%) would have chosen family medicine as an alternative. A total of 55/288 (19%) anticipated practicing in rural areas.
Conclusions: The majority of med-peds interns would have chosen internal medicine or pediatrics if med-peds was not available. A small percentage would have chosen family medicine, thus having a minor impact on recruitment. An even smaller proportion would have chosen a non-primary care specialty. A sizable number anticipate practicing in rural areas.