ACP: Residency match results show need for reforms

PHILADELPHIA -- (March 16, 2006) The 2006 National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) results, released today, plus data on internal medicine residents' eventual career plans, underscore the need for reforms to avert a crisis in primary care medicine, according to the American College of Physicians (ACP).

While the number of American medical students entering categorical internal medicine training programs was virtually identical to last year (2,668 for 2006 vs. 2,659 for 2005), other indicators show a continuing gravitation of residents toward eventual careers in the medical subspecialties rather than primary care.

According to Steven E. Weinberger, MD, FACP, ACP senior vice president for medical knowledge and education, "Data from a residency questionnaire show a progressive fall in the percentage of graduating internal medicine residents planning careers in general medicine. In 1998, 54 percent of graduating residents were choosing to go into general internal medicine; the comparable number for residents graduating in 2005 was only 20 percent."

More students are entering combined medicine-pediatrics training programs this year, 294 compared with 275 in 2005, representing a 7 percent increase. ACP continues to be concerned with the increase in students choosing combined or specialized fields in favor of general internal medicine. Internists are expert diagnosticians who can treat and manage chronically ill patients with one or multiple complex and interactive illnesses. Internists also are experts in evidence-based disease prevention, early detection of disease, medication management, and health promotion. They serve as consultants when patients have difficult, undifferentiated problems and may also have special areas of expertise.

The need for physicians to care for patients with chronic and complex illnesses will increase substantially as the U.S. population ages. Within only five years, the first of a wave of 76 million baby bo

Contact: Lynda Teer
American College of Physicians

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