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Comments on the AAMC policy statement recommending strategies for increasing the production of generalist physicians.

Authors
  • Greer, D S
  • Bhak, K N
  • Zenker, B M
Type
Published Article
Journal
Academic medicine : journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges
Publication Date
Apr 01, 1994
Volume
69
Issue
4
Pages
245–260
Identifiers
PMID: 8155226
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

The United States has a physician specialty imbalance, primarily a shortage of generalists (defined as family physicians, general internists, and general pediatricians) relative to other specialists. In recent years, the rising costs of health care, the expansion of managed care, and problems of access to care have accentuated the critical role that generalists must play in a cost-effective, accessible health care system. Despite numerous public and private initiatives designed to address the supply of generalist physicians, the ratio of generalists to specialists has been decreasing. Although the factors contributing to the shrinking proportion of generalists are many and are often outside the control of educators, there is evidence that medical schools can play a major role in influencing specialty choice. Recognizing the need to address the specialty imbalance in this country, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) appointed the Generalist Physician Task Force to develop a statement suggesting actions that the AAMC and its constituents could take to foster a greater representation of generalist physicians in the United States. The task force produced an Executive Summary, published as an AAMC policy statement in early 1993, that contained recommended strategies for medical schools, graduate medical education, and the practice environment. The authors of the present article critique these recommendations, provide a background and rationale for each of them, and give suggestions about how some of the recommendations might be implemented. While they are in general agreement with the AAMC policy statement, they feel the recommended strategies fall short of the need. They maintain that the AAMC statement represents an admirable but cautious approach to a daunting problem, and that the time is past when cautious approaches will suffice. The authors conclude with the hope that bolder initiatives will emerge from the new AAMC Office of Generalist Physician Programs.

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