Young Doctors Avoiding Primary Care

The ACP cited an American Medical Association survey that found 35 percent of all physicians nationwide are over the age of 55 and will soon retire.

In 2003, only 27 percent of third year internal medicine residents actually planned to practice internal medicine, the group said, with others planning to go into more lucrative specialty jobs.

“Primary care physicians — the bedrock of medical care for today and the future — are at the bottom of the list of all medical specialties in median income compensation,” the ACP said. The group, which represents 119,000 doctors and medical students in general internal medicine and sub-specialties, joins others that warn the U.S. health care system is untenable. “If these reforms do not take place, within a few years there will not be enough primary care physicians to take care of an aging population with increasing incidences of chronic diseases,” said Dr. Vineet Arora, chair of the College’s Council of Associates.

Dr. Sara Walker, a Missouri physician, said she believed doctors were leaving general practice because of drops in Medicare reimbursement to doctors.

“A drop in Medicare payments will not only force me to stop taking Medicare patients but could force me out of business,” agreed Dr. Kevin Lutz, a solo practitioner in Denver.

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