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Only a Quarter of New Doctors Choose Primary Care

FRIDAY, June 14 (HealthDay News) -- Only about a quarter of newly graduated physicians work in primary care and only about 5 percent practice in rural areas, despite public funding of graduate medical education (GME), according to research published online June 7 in Academic Medicine.

Candice Chen, M.D., M.P.H., from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and colleagues analyzed data from 8,977 physicians who had graduated from 759 medical residency sites from 2006 to 2008 to determine where they practiced three to five years after graduation.

The researchers found that only 25.2 percent of physicians were working in primary care, including hospitalists. The top 20 primary care producing sites graduated 41.0 percent of primary care graduates and received only $292.1 million in total Medicare GME payments, while the bottom 20 sites graduated only 6.3 percent but received $842.4 million in payments. In addition, only 4.8 percent of graduates practiced in rural areas.

"These findings can inform educators and policy makers during a period of increased calls to align the GME system with national health needs," Chen and colleagues conclude.

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