How medical schools can encourage students' interest in family medicine

Acad Med. 2015 May;90(5):553-5. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000569.


The discipline of family medicine is essential to improving quality and reducing the cost of care in an effective health care system. Yet the slow growth of this field has not kept pace with national demand. In their study, Rodríguez and colleagues report on the influence of the social environment and academic discourses on medical students' identification with family medicine in four countries-the United Kingdom, Canada, France, and Spain. They conclude that these factors-the social environment and discursive activity within the medical school-influence students' specialty choices. While the discourses in Canada, France, and Spain were mostly negative, in the United Kingdom, family medicine was considered a prestigious academic discipline, well paying, and with a wide range of practice opportunities. Medical students in the United Kingdom also were exposed early and often to positive family medicine role models.In the United States, academic discourses about family medicine are more akin to those in Canada, France, and Spain. The hidden curriculum includes negative messages about family medicine, and "badmouthing" primary care occurs at many medical schools. National education initiatives highlight the importance of social determinants in medical education and the integration of public health and medicine in practice. Other initiatives expose students to family medicine role models and practice during their undergraduate training and promote primary care practice through new graduate medical education funding models. Together, these initiatives can reduce the negative effects of the social environment and create a more positive discourse about family medicine.

Publication types

  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Career Choice*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods*
  • Family Practice / education*
  • Humans
  • Physicians, Family / education*
  • Schools, Medical / standards*
  • Social Identification*
  • Students, Medical / psychology*