CONTACT: C. LINDON LARSON
283 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-9569; fax (319) 335-8034
UI sponsors event for Iowa communities seeking family doctors
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Help wanted: Iowa communities need family doctors.
Despite a decline in demand for family physicians, jobs for these doctors
are available in 112 Iowa towns. Representatives from more than 50 of these
communities will attend the Family Practice Opportunities Fair, an annual
event that links medical professionals with communities that need their services.
The University of Iowa College of Medicine and the Iowa Family Practice Residents
Council will host the event Saturday, Aug. 23, from 1-5 p.m. at the Polk County
Convention Complex in Des Moines. Hospitals, clinics, and community groups
will sponsor booths visited by 90 family medicine resident physicians and
15 physician assistant students training in Iowa.
For more than 20 years, the event has helped communities meet their need
for medical professionals, says Roger Tracy, director of the Office of Statewide
Clinical Education Programs at the UI medical college. Currently, there are
152 private practice opportunities for family physicians across Iowa, down
from a peak of 334 in 1988.
"The number of opportunities for family practice physicians has come
down, in part because some towns are no longer recruiting," Tracy says.
He attributes the decline to successful recruiting efforts and changes in
the health care system.
Since the 1970s, the UI has tracked practice opportunities and characteristics
of Iowa's physician population. Recent years have brought the state net gains
in the number of practicing family doctors, a contrast to previous years in
which Iowa barely kept up with physician losses to retirement, death, relocation
or other factors.
In 1996, Iowa attracted 74 new family physicians and lost 53, for a net gain
of 21 -- substantially more than the 10-year average gain of two. It was the
second consecutive year in which the state gained more than 20 family doctors.
Today, fewer small communities support full-time doctors, instead receiving
medical care from satellite clinics affiliated with health care organizations
in larger cities. Much of the current demand for family physicians and other
general practitioners comes from these organizations.
Last year, nearly half the new doctors who began practice in the state were
family physicians, general internists, or pediatricians -- dubbed primary
care doctors for their role in treating most common health problems. The growth
in primary care reflects a greater reliance on generalists rather than specialists,
as well as the popularity of primary care careers among recent medical school
This year, more than half of UI College of Medicine graduates chose to enter
training programs in primary care. "These trends are consistent with
changes in our curriculum over the past two to three years," Tracy says,
noting that UI medical students spend more time in primary care rotations
and community settings.
Family medicine is an area of particular strength for the college. Twenty-seven
percent of this year's medical class entered residency programs in the specialty,
including the Statewide Family Practice Training Program coordinated by the
UI at nine Iowa sites.
Most of those registered for Saturday's event are residents in the statewide
program. Last year, 70 percent of its graduates stayed in Iowa to begin their
careers, an all-time high. Continued strong interest in family medicine and
Iowa practice opportunities indicates that the state will continue to sustain
gains in family doctors, Tracy says.
Co-sponsors of the event include the Iowa Academy of Family Physicians and
the Iowa Medical Society.