Marc L. Rivo, MD, MPH
The overspecialized U.S. physician workforce and mix of graduating residents undermine strategies to provide quality and affordable health care to all Americans. Several respected advisory bodies have recently proposed fundamental changes in federal policy to better match physician supply and specialty mix with health care needs. They recommend that Congress limit the total number of filled first-year resident positions to 110% of the number of U.S. medical school graduates, a 20% reduction from current levels. They have proposed that positions and funding be allocated to medical schools, teaching hospitals, residency programs, or consortia of such entities to ensure that at least 50% of each graduating residency class enters generalist practice. An all-payer, graduate medical education pool and financing system have been suggested as ways to uncouple the physician workforce from hospital service needs and to eliminate disincentives toward ambulatory and primary care training. Increases in generalist production must be accompanied by decreases in nonprimary care specialty and subspecialty positions. In addition, generalist physicians must be better prepared in managed care competencies. Given today's subspecialist surplus, managed care organizations are considering how to retrain subspecialists as generalists. The Federated Council of Internal Medicine's goal that 50% of its graduates become general internists is an important step because internists compose one sixth of all physicians and one third of all first-year residents. This article identifies the challenges that lay ahead on the road to medical generalism and what it may take to get there.
Rivo ML. Internal Medicine and the Journey to Medical Generalism. Ann Intern Med. ;119:146–152. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-119-2-199307150-00009
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 1993;119(2):146-152.
Education and Training, Healthcare Delivery and Policy, Hospital Medicine.
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Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
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