With growing numbers of patient-centered medical homes and accountable care organizations, and the potential implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the provision of primary care in the United States is expanding and changing. Therefore, there is an urgent need to create more primary-care physicians and to train physicians to practice in this environment. In this article, we review the impact that the changing US healthcare system has on trainees, strategies to recruit and retain medical students and residents into primary-care internal medicine, and the preparation of trainees to work in the changing healthcare system. Recruitment methods for medical students include early preclinical exposure to patients in the primary-care setting, enhanced longitudinal patient experiences in clinical clerkships, and primary-care tracks. Recruitment methods for residents include enhanced ambulatory-care training and primary-care programs. Financial-incentive programs such as loan forgiveness may encourage trainees to enter primary care. Retaining residents in primary-care careers may be encouraged via focused postgraduate fellowships or continuing medical education to prepare primary-care physicians as both teachers and practitioners in the changing environment. Finally, to prepare primary-care trainees to effectively and efficiently practice within the changing system, educators should consider shifting ambulatory training to community-based practices, encouraging resident participation in team-based care, providing interprofessional educational experiences, and involving trainees in quality-improvement initiatives. Medical educators in primary care must think innovatively and collaboratively to effectively recruit and train the future generation of primary-care physicians.
© 2012 Mount Sinai School of Medicine.