Feb. 3, 2017 | For the fifth time in nine years, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) is ranked in the top 10 nationwide for the percentage of its graduating class to pursue family medicine.
In the latest ranking, the UAMS College of Medicine was listed seventh in the nation by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). The ranked list was based on a three-year average ending in 2015 of the percentage of each graduating class to go into a family medicine residency program accredited by the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education. UAMS was included on the ranking of Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) programs.
“We are pleased to once again be recognized as one of the nation’s leading medical schools for producing family medicine physicians, and we’re proud that so many of our graduates consistently choose careers in family medicine and other primary care specialties,” said UAMS Executive Vice Chancellor and College of Medicine Dean Pope L. Moseley, M.D. “With access to primary care limited in so much of the state, especially rural areas, many communities need these dedicated young physicians.”
More than two thirds of Arkansas’ 75 counties include federally designated Primary Care Health Professional Shortage Areas. UAMS has taken many steps to generate more family physicians and other primary care doctors. Moseley and other academic leaders encourage medical students to consider residency training and careers in family medicine, and the college works with private partners to increase funding for scholarships for students who are interested in primary care.
Daniel A. Knight, M.D., chair of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine in the UAMS College of Medicine, said that shortage of primary care providers in Arkansas and nationwide makes this effort more important than ever.
“While recruitment has always been a priority, our efforts intensified after receiving a five-year Health Resources and Services Administration grant to specifically address this issue,” Knight said. “Dr. Arlo Kahn, the primary investigator, has worked to improve and standardize the Family Medicine Clerkship, as well as to capture the interest of medical students early in their training. I would also like to recognize our faculty and staff, the support of Dean Moseley and the work of the UAMS Regional Programs, who have all raised awareness about our specialty.”
In 2016, 56 percent of the UAMS College of Medicine graduating class secured residencies in one of the primary care specialties, which include family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology. Thirty-three of the 163 UAMS seniors who participated in the National Residency Match Program matched to a family medicine residency.
The AAFP based its most recent study on UAMS’ three-year average rate, which was 16.3 percent. The one-year rate for the 2014-2015 school year at UAMS was 19.3 percent, well above the national average of 8.7 percent for M.D. programs during the same time period.
The one-year rate was an improvement for UAMS, where in recent years, the rate was: 14.6 percent in 2013-2014; 15.1 percent in 2012-2013; 12.6 percent in 2011-2012; and 11.9 percent in 2010-2011.
The AAFP highlights programs that are going above and beyond to grow the primary care workforce because of a physician shortfall in this field. As the need for primary care grows, so does the need for family medicine practitioners.
“As the U.S. struggles with a current primary care physician shortage that is expected to be exacerbated to a shortage of more than 33,000 primary care physicians by 2035, this contribution is critical to the health of all Americans,” said John Meigs, M.D., F.A.A.F.P., president of the AAFP. “We hope that the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine will continue to lead the way.”
The Council on Graduate Medical Education 20th Report recommended that primary care doctors should make up 40 percent of the physician workforce. The most recent estimates from 2008 put that number at 35 percent and declining, according to the AAFP report. Despite the efforts of the AAFP and other advocacy groups, the percentage of M.D. program graduates entering family medicine has remained flat over the last decade.
“Against the backdrop of population growth and aging, as well as growth in the number of insured Americans, a stagnant primary care workforce has exacerbated – and will continue to if nothing changes – the shortage of primary care in the United States,” according to the report. “All U.S. medical schools receive federal support directly or indirectly and most as a primary form of funding. Therefore, all U.S. medical schools should be accountable for contributing significantly to health workforce needs and priorities of their communities and the country.”
Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 124,900 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care. Family physicians conduct about one in five office visits – 192 million visits annually or 48 percent more than the next medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty.
UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; northwest Arkansas regional campus; statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Myeloma Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and Translational Research Institute. It is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 2,834 students, 822 medical residents and six dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses throughout the state, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.