In this week's "Doctor and Patient" column, I write about the dwindling numbers of U.S. medical students who are choosing to go into primary care. Medical educators have pointed to enormous educational debts, lower income, and less controllable hours and lifestyle as the major reasons that students prefer other specialties over primary care. Even with the current legislative attempts to remedy some of these issues, medical educators continue worry about a worsening shortage of primary care physicians.
Why? Because primary care also suffers from a terrible image problem.
While the frisson of advancing treatments and approaches to patient care seem to envelope most other specialties, the image of primary care remains one of a vaguely anachronistic practice, a group of doctors who stand not on the forefront of creative change but who are continually left holding the biggest bag of administrative expectations and clinical care coordination and demands.
But that image may be changing.