May 30, 2013
The American Academy of Family Physicians has honored the University of Arizona College of Medicine as one of the top 12 allopathic medical schools that graduated the most students who chose to go into family medicine from 2010 through 2012. The ranking applies to the UA College of Medicine’s Tucson and Phoenix campuses.
From 2010 through 2012, 17.2 percent of UA medical school graduates chose family medicine residency programs for their post-doctoral training. That includes 25 of the 146 UA medical school students who graduated last year: 19 of the 105 Tucson campus graduates, and six of the 41 Phoenix campus graduates.
At the other schools ranked by the AAFP, the percent of graduates choosing family medicine over the three-year period ranged from 15.4 percent to nearly 21 percent.
(Note: The AAFP award is called the “Top Ten Award,” because it previously was given to 10 medical schools each year. This year’s awards went to 10 medical schools – including the UA and one other – that have more than one campus, so a total of 12 awards were given.)
At a time when the United States is facing a shortage of primary care physicians, filling the pipeline is vital to the health of America, according to AAFP President Jeff Cain, MD.
“Family physicians are the foundation of primary care,” Dr. Cain says. “Research has consistently shown that more than six in 10 people who have a usual source of health care say a family physician provides that care.”
Says Doug Campos-Outcalt, chair of the UA Department of Family, Community and Preventive Medicine at the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix, “This is a tribute to our high-quality family medicine faculty, in Tucson and Phoenix. We are encouraged to see these students pursue family medicine, the front line of health care for most people.”
Tammie Bassford, MD, head of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the UA College of Medicine - Tucson, says the AAFP ranking “recognizes our efforts to nurture students’ interest in family medicine.
“We have a serious shortage of family doctors and other primary care doctors, in Arizona and across the nation,” Dr. Bassford says. “We as faculty make a strong effort to familiarize students with the variety and opportunities that a career in family medicine offers.”
Part of that effort is the Family Medicine Interest Group, which the AAFP honored in 2012 with one of its 10 Program of Excellence Awards.
The interest group is open to students from the time they enter medical school until they graduate. It offers a variety of activities, including lunch-hour talks and demonstrations on various procedures, as well as the chance to connect with like-minded students.
“The Family Medicine Interest Group’s Baby Beeper Program is a great example of the opportunities the group provides medical students, even in their first year,” says Tejal Parikh, MD, UA assistant professor of family and community medicine.
“Medical students are contacted whenever a family medicine physician is about to deliver a baby, so they can observe the delivery,” says Dr. Parikh, who chose to become a family physician after joining an interest group when she was in medical school.
“It’s amazing, the first time you ever watch a delivery,” she says. “For students, especially first- and second-year, they’re learning in classrooms and getting to see some patients, but this is often their first opportunity to have a hands-on clinical experience.”
Samantha Shira, MD, graduated from the UA College of Medicine – Tucson on May 9, and soon will begin her three-year family medicine residency with Family Medicine of Southwest Washington in Vancouver.
“You get to see patients from babies and children to older adults. You get to do women’s health, deliver babies and see elderly patients into hospice care,” Dr. Shira says. “So it’s the variety that attracted me to family medicine, and the relationships you get to form with patients over all those years.”