Medical Education  |   May 2016
Premedical Students’ Attitudes Toward Primary Care Medicine
Author Notes
  • From the Department of Family Medicine (Drs Beverly and Law); the Department of Biological Sciences (Ms Wietecha); Primary Care Research Initiatives (Ms Nottingham); the Office of Research and Grants (Ms Nottingham and Dr Rush); and the Clinical and Translational Research Unit (Drs Rush and Law) at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine in Athens. 
  •  *Address correspondence to Elizabeth A. Beverly, PhD, 1 Ohio University, 357 Grosvenor Hall, Department of Family Medicine, Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, Athens, OH 45701-2979. E-mail: beverle1@ohio.edu
     
Article Information
Gastroenterology / Medical Education / Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology / Preventive Medicine / Professional Issues
Medical Education   |   May 2016
Premedical Students’ Attitudes Toward Primary Care Medicine
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, May 2016, Vol. 116, 302-309. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2016.060
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, May 2016, Vol. 116, 302-309. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2016.060
Web of Science® Times Cited: 1
Abstract

Background: Expanded insurance coverage will likely increase the demand for primary care physicians in the United States. Despite this demand, the number of medical students planning to specialize in primary care is decreasing.

Objective: To explore premedical students’ attitudes toward the primary care specialty.

Methods: Students enrolled in premedicine at a large Midwestern university were invited to complete the Primary Care Attitudes Survey (Cronbach α=.76). This 25-item survey measures attitudes about primary care on a 5-point Likert scale, ranging from 1, “strongly disagree” to 5, “strongly agree.” Basic sociodemographic characteristics were assessed using descriptive statistics, and frequencies of individual survey responses were calculated using SPSS statistical software version 21.0.

Results: A total of 100 premedical students (mean [SD] age, 19.8 [1.5] years; 59 female, 82 white non-Hispanic, and 33 freshman) completed the survey. Of 100 students, 33 planned to pursue primary care; 66 thought that primary care physicians would always have a job; 25 thought that primary care may become obsolete as medicine becomes more specialized; 48 thought that physician assistants and nurse practitioners would take over many primary care duties in the future; 91 thought that primary care physicians make important contributions to medicine; and 84 agreed that primary care focuses on the whole patient.

Conclusions: Premedical students held positive views about the importance of primary care; however, many expressed uncertainty about the stability of primary care careers in the future. Further, a substantial number of students believed common misconceptions about the scope and practice of primary care, such as primary care doctors are gatekeepers and mostly diagnose colds and ear infections.

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