How can we change medical students' perceptions of a career in family medicine? Marketing or substance?

Amnon Lahad*, Andrew Bazemore, Davorina Petek, William R. Phillips, Dan Merenstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Family Medicine (FM) is the care of unselected patients with undifferentiated problems in the settings where people need care in our communities. It is intellectually challenging, providing breadth and depth unparalleled in other areas of medical practice. In one survey only 19% of Israeli students reported being interested in FM. Students interested in FM had greater interest in bedside and direct long-term patient care. Students not planning FM residency training had preconceived notions that the discipline had lower academic opportunities and prestige. What can be done to increase student interest in careers in FM? This commentary includes perspectives of family practice leaders from several countries: The problem isn't the students it is the scope of practice and expectations both of which can and should change if FM in Israel wants to stay viable. The scope of FM should be broadened to include more procedures and new technologies. This may also increase the earning potential of Family Practitioners (FPs). Payment policy and credentialing barriers should be change to expand scope of practice and allow FPs to practice at the full extent of their training. FM should offer clear professional horizon with potential for many sub-specialties and areas of focus. The Israeli HMOs, the Ministry of Health and the Israeli Association of FM should invest heavily in building academic departments of FM and promoting research. This will enhance the image of FM in the eyes of the students, the profession and the public. The clinical work environment should be improved by reducing bureaucratic assignments, such as issuing certifications, dealing with quality measurements and renewing chronic prescriptions. Much of this work can be done by nurse practitioners (NPs) working as part of an FP-led team. These NPs can also take care of patients with limited complaints to make the work of the FP more challenging and attractive. Training must include opportunities to develop longitudinal relationships with patients and families across problems and over time. It is these relationships that add value to the process of care, improve patient outcomes and provide meaning to sustain clinical careers that meet the needs of patients and communities.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number52
JournalIsrael Journal of Health Policy Research
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 25 Aug 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Author(s).

Keywords

  • Career choice
  • Family medicine
  • Medical education
  • Medical specialty
  • Medical students

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