Most family medicine graduates practice near where they trained

December 2, 2013

Researchers found that most medical graduates practice near where they trained, a trend that partly explains the primary care shortage.

More than half of all family medicine residents practice near where they trained, a series of individual decisions that have far-reaching implications for the U.S. primary care shortage.

Researchers with the Robert Graham Center examined data from the 2009 American Medical Association (AMA) Physician Masterfile and found that 56% of family medicine residents stay within 100 miles of where they graduated from residency.

Delving deeper into the data, the authors found that 19% of these graduates stay within 5 miles of their residency program, and 39% remain within 25 miles.

The findings were published in the November issue of American Family Physician.

“The distribution of physicians continues to compromise access to primary care, a problem compounded by limited volume of training outside of major metropolitan areas and large academic health centers,” the authors say.

The authors conclude that the results show a need to support efforts to “decentralize graduate medical education training through models such as teaching health centers and rural training tracks.”

Regional distribution of new physicians is not the only imbalance; funding for graduate medical education is also skewed, according to a recent study by researchers at George Washington University. They found that funding distribution favored the Northeast, while 29 states received less than 1% of the funding.