Phenomenon: Existing research provides little specific evidence regarding the association between public and private medical school curricular settings and the proportion of medical students matching into family medicine careers. Institutional differences have been inadequately investigated, as students who match into family medicine are often consolidated into the umbrella of primary care along with those matching in internal medicine and pediatrics. However, understanding medical school contexts in relation to career choice is critical toward designing targeted strategies to address the projected shortage of family physicians. This study examines factors associated with family medicine residency match rates and the extent to which such factors differ across medical school settings. Approach: We combined data from a survey of 123 departments of family medicine with graduate placement rates reported to the American Academy of Family Physicians over a 2-year period. Chi-square/Fisher's Exact texts, t tests, and linear regression analyses were used to identify factors significantly associated with average match rate percentages. Findings: The resulting data set included 85% of the U.S. medical schools with Departments of Family Medicine that reported 2011 and 2012 residency match rates in family medicine. Match rates in family medicine were higher among graduates of public than private medical schools—11% versus 7%, respectively, t(92) = 4.00, p <.001. Using a linear regression model and controlling for institutional type, the results indicated 2% higher match rates among schools with smaller annual clerkship enrollments (p =.03), 3% higher match rates among schools with clerkships lasting more than 3 to 4 weeks (p =.003), 3% higher match rates at schools with at least 1 family medicine faculty member in a senior leadership role (p =.04), and 8% lower match rates at private medical schools offering community medicine electives (p <.001, R2 =.48), F(6, 64) = 9.95, p <.001. Three additional factors were less strongly related and varied by institutional type—informal mentoring, ambulatory primary care learning experiences, and institutional research focus. Insights: Educational opportunities associated with higher match rates in family medicine differ across private and public medical schools. Future research is needed to identify the qualitative aspects of educational programming that contribute to differences in match rates across institutional contexts. Results of this study should prove useful in mitigating physician shortages, particularly in primary care fields such as family medicine.
- career choice
- family medicine
- medical school
- undergraduate medical education