Today state governments, professional organizations, and healthcare entities are pursuing initiatives to increase the number of medical schools and medical school graduates in the United States. This surge to augment the availability of medical care for a population that is older and more ethnically diverse than in prior decades inevitably raises the issue of access to primary care.
Between 1998 and 2006, the proportion of medical school graduates entering the primary care specialties of internal medicine, pediatrics, and family medicine decreased from 50 to 38 percent. Further, the percentage of third-year internal medicine residents planning general internal medicine careers (other than as a hospitalist) decreased by half between 1998 and 2003 (54% to 27%), and only 19 percent of first-year internal medicine residents in 2003 planned a primary care career.
A varied list of predictors of specialty choice have been studied, including demographic and socioeconomic factors, academic achievement, medical school curricula, and lifestyle plans. A prominent area of investigation has been psychological or personality characteristics.
In this 2008 study, authors examined the relationship between a 5-factor personality model and specialty choice for 4 classes of medical school graduates.