The role of the medical school admission process in the production of generalist physicians

Acad Med. 1999 Jan;74(1 Suppl):S39-44. doi: 10.1097/00001888-199901001-00029.


Medical education research has identified a number of medical student characteristics that are related to graduates' entering generalist careers. These include initial specialty preference, geographic background, gender, age, ethnicity, economic and lifestyle factors, attitudes and personal values, service orientation, and premedical academic performance. Identifying and giving weight to these factors in the medical school admission process is likely to increase the number of graduates who choose generalist specialties. This paper discusses these medical student characteristics and presents strategies that medical schools could use in the selection process to enhance the matriculation of students who are most likely to become generalists. In this way, medical schools will be able to recruit and select students who are most likely to become excellent physicians, and also produce a more appropriate balance of all specialists to meet the needs of the population.

MeSH terms

  • Career Choice
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate*
  • Family Practice / education*
  • Humans
  • School Admission Criteria*
  • Schools, Medical*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Students, Medical
  • United States