(HealthDay News) – Only about one in five graduating internal medicine residents in the United States plan to enter general internal medicine (GIM), which is more common among graduates of primary care programs, women, and U.S. medical graduates, according to a study published in the Dec. 5 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Colin P. West, MD, PhD, and Denise M. Dupras, MD, PhD, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, surveyed 16,781 third-year internal medicine residents in the United States regarding their career plans.

The researchers found that 21.5% of residents planned to enter GIM. This career path was significantly more common among residents in primary care programs compared with categorical programs (39.6% vs. 19.9%; adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 2.76). Significantly more residents in categorical vs. primary care programs reported a subspecialty career plan (65.3% vs. 52.5%; aOR, 1.90). GIM career plans were more common among women (aOR, 1.69) and among U.S. medical graduates versus international medical graduates (aOR, 1.76), particularly for U.S. medical graduates in a primary care program (aOR, 3.48).

“Reported GIM career plans were markedly less common than subspecialty career plans among internal medicine residents, including those in primary care training programs, and differed according to resident sex, medical school location, and program type,” West and Dupras conclude.

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Which attribute of primary care practice do you think contributes most to physicians’ decisions to choose other specialties?