Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013
Most internal medicine residents pursuing specialty
Just as the United States approaches a shortage of primary care physicians, a new study suggests that fewer than a quarter of new doctors finishing an internal medicine training program plan to become primary care physicians.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), analyzed surveys of nearly 17,000 young doctors and found that while 64 percent planned to continue their training to become specialists, just under 22 percent planned to begin practicing as a general internal medicine doctor. The rest hoped to work in a hospital or were undecided about their future.
"Our study suggests that current numbers of graduates planning general medicine careers won't come anywhere near meeting that [primary care] shortage," study co-author Colin West, MD, explained.
The authors suggest that earning potential might explain the flight from primary care. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average annual salary for a primary care physician in 2010 was $202,392, compared to $356,885 for all medical specialists combined.
"Ultimately … we just have to start to pay much more to general internal medicine physicians," study co-author Amitabh Chandra, an economist at Harvard University, said.
Access to JAMA and all nine of the JAMA specialty journals is just one of the many benefits of an AMA membership.
Resident evaluates value of physician rating websites
While physician rating websites continue to log millions of hits each month, it's not clear whether they really help consumers find the right doctor, finds a new study led by Chandy Ellimoottil, MD, a urology resident at Loyola University Medical Center.
The study, published in the Journal of Urology, looked at 471 urologists across 10 physician rating websites. Most urologists were on at least one of the websites, but the average number of reviews was only 2.4. As a result, the potential for the physician's reputation to be marred by one unhappy patient is real, explains Dr. Ellimoottil.
"There is a lot of volatility in that number," she said.
Reassuringly, 86 percent of physicians had positive ratings, and the majority of comments were neutral or positive. But with so few comments, it remains unclear whether these websites could really aid someone in finding the right physician.
Dr. Ellimoottil advised in a recent news article that consumers may have to rely on more traditional ways to find out about their doctors, such as state medical board websites, information from health insurance companies and word of mouth.