In Search of More Primary-Care Doctors | WSJ

This article points to the well-worn causes for our primary care shortage—too little pay relative to specialists and the hidden-curriculum against primary care. However, they also bring up an infrequently discussed factor—who we select to be doctors.

George Thibault…says that if the U.S. wants to produce more primary-care doctors, especially those who are willing to practice in disadvantaged and underserved areas, medical schools may need to change the way they select students. He says students who have strong ties to their community, want to form long-term relationships and have a commitment to public service are more likely to choose primary care than other students…

…Grades and test scores, [G. Richard Olds, the founding dean at UC-Riverside], can no longer be the exclusive criteria for entry into primary care. “I’d even argue that those with the highest grades and Medical College Admission Test scores may not make the best doctors.” Riverside seeks students with public-service work experience and those from disadvantaged backgrounds who are likely to return to their communities to practice.

Current premed curricula and medical school admissions heavily favor students interested in biology, chemistry, and physics. These disciplines emphasize basic science research and high technology. What medical disciplines tend to feature lab research and/or use of advanced technologies? Subspecialties, not primary care.