CONTACT: C. LINDON LARSON
283 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-9569; fax (319) 335-8034
EDITORS: The following news release concerns a report on trends in the Iowa
physician population. Roger Tracy will be available to discuss the report
Saturday, Aug. 23, from 1-5 p.m. at the Iowa Family Practice Opportunities
Fair at the Polk County Convention Complex in Des Moines. The event is an
opportunity for Iowa communities to recruit family doctors. Community representatives
from across the state and physicians beginning their careers will also be
available for interviews. Tracy can be reached at (515) 242-2599 during the
UI report charts influx of primary care physicians
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Iowa communities are getting the types of doctors they
need most, according to a report from the University of Iowa College of Medicine.
Last year, nearly half of the state's new physicians were general medicine
specialists -- family physicians, internists and pediatricians who provide
the bulk of basic medical care.
The growth of these medical fields -- also known as primary care specialties
-- is a response to changes in the health care market, according to Roger
Tracy, director of the college's Office of Statewide Clinical Programs, which
compiled the report. It also reflects the fact that more graduates of U.S.
medical schools are choosing primary care careers.
"Ideally, primary care doctors ought to make up 50 percent of those
entering practice," Tracy says, noting that in 1996, 48.9 percent of
the Iowa's 282 new physicians specialized in primary care. "You can't
get much closer than that," he adds.
Iowa ended 1996 with a net gain of 63 physicians, most of them primary care
practitioners. Most significant gains were in family medicine and general
internal medicine, each with 21 more physicians by year's end -- substantially
higher than the 10-year average gains of two and nine doctors, respectively.
About 60 percent of the Iowa doctors who retired, died, or otherwise stopped
practicing in 1996 were non-primary care specialists, a first since the UI
began tracking physician trends. In past years, the state experienced just
the opposite: Nearly 60 percent of physicians leaving Iowa practices were
primary care doctors.
Rural communities have typically sought family practitioners able to treat
common health problems, but fewer of Iowa's smallest towns are recruiting
physicians today. Much of the current demand from primary care doctors stems
from the growth of managed care insurance plans and integrated health delivery
systems in larger cities. This is particularly true of the substantial gain
in general internists.
The UI College of Medicine has addressed the need for primary care physicians
with a revised curriculum that stresses general and community-based medicine.
More than 50 percent of its 1997 graduates entered training programs in family
medicine, internal medicine or pediatrics.
"The trend toward more primary care doctors in the state is consistent
with changes in our curriculum over the last two to three years," Tracy
says. The college is particularly strong in family medicine, this year sending
27 percent of its graduates to residency programs in the specialty, including
the Statewide Family Practice Training Program coordinated by the college
at nine Iowa sites.
Of the program's 1996 graduates, 70 percent began practice in Iowa, an all-time
high according to Tracy. While the total number of opportunities is declining,
there remains a need for additional family doctors. At present, there are
152 private practice opportunities available for family physicians in 112
Representatives from 55 communities will attend the annual Family Practice
Opportunities Fair sponsored by the college and the Iowa Family Practice Residents
Council in Des Moines on Saturday, Aug. 23. The event is an chance for representatives
to meet with doctors who are completing family medicine residencies.