With the coming changes in healthcare, more primary care physicians will be needed to treat the influx of new patients. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) released a report back in 2006 stating that a 30% increase would be needed to keep up with the demand. Four years later, the AAMC shows that this gap between supply and demand will likely be filled by 2016. This is good news for those who feared that primary care had lost ground compared to specialty care.
Medical students often choose to become specialists because they have a large amount of school debt and they are likely to make more money as a specialist than a PCP. However, medical schools are attempting to emphasize the importance of primary care in order to increase the number of students choosing this path in medicine. Medical schools are modifying clinical rotations, refining their admissions criteria, and expanding the amount of PCPs they employ as instructors. With these changes in place, medical schools hope that students will be re-energized to pursue this career path.
It is vitally important that medical schools work towards making sure the next generation of physicians can adequately cover the needs of patients, including the increased demand that will occur when healthcare reform brings a large amount of new patients into the system. Primary care will remain the first-line in treatment, so there must be enough providers to cover the demand. Now there's hope that this coverage will actually take place.