Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 28, Issue 6, pp 787–792 | Cite as

Primary Care Careers Among Recent Graduates of Research-Intensive Private and Public Medical Schools

Original Research



Despite a growing need for primary care physicians in the United States, the proportion of medical school graduates pursuing primary care careers has declined over the past decade.


To assess the association of medical school research funding with graduates matching in family medicine residencies and practicing primary care.


Observational study of United States medical schools.


One hundred twenty-one allopathic medical schools.


The primary outcomes included the proportion of each school’s graduates from 1999 to 2001 who were primary care physicians in 2008, and the proportion of each school’s graduates who entered family medicine residencies during 2007 through 2009. The 25 medical schools with the highest levels of research funding from the National Institutes of Health in 2010 were designated as “research-intensive.”


Among research-intensive medical schools, the 16 private medical schools produced significantly fewer practicing primary care physicians (median 24.1 % vs. 33.4 %, p < 0.001) and fewer recent graduates matching in family medicine residencies (median 2.4 % vs. 6.2 %, p < 0.001) than the other 30 private schools. In contrast, the nine research-intensive public medical schools produced comparable proportions of graduates pursuing primary care careers (median 36.1 % vs. 36.3 %, p = 0.87) and matching in family medicine residencies (median 7.4 % vs. 10.0 %, p = 0.37) relative to the other 66 public medical schools.


To meet the health care needs of the US population, research-intensive private medical schools should play a more active role in promoting primary care careers for their students and graduates.


primary care medical education research funding 




The authors are grateful to Lin Ding, PhD for assistance with statistical analyses, and to Debby Collins for assistance with manuscript preparation.


No grants or other internal or external financial support were received for the work presented in this manuscript.

Prior presentations

The content of this manuscript has not been presented at any conferences.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they do not have a conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11606_2012_2286_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (54 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 54 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Phillip A. Choi
    • 1
  • Shuai Xu
    • 2
  • John Z. Ayanian
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.University of Pittsburgh School of MedicinePittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Health Care PolicyHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  4. 4.Division of General Medicine and Primary CareBrigham and Women’s HospitalBostonUSA
  5. 5.Institute for Healthcare Policy and InnovationUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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