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Release: Immediate

UI medical students favor primary care fields in annual "Match Day" results

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- With excitement and a touch of nervousness, 168 University of Iowa medical students today tore open envelopes to find out where they will head after graduation. The scene was "Match Day," the annual event when graduating medical students across the country receive word on their residencies -- advanced training programs that typically follow medical school.

For the UI College of Medicine, the news was good. Some 64 percent of this year's UI medical class matched with residency programs in family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology. In recent years, these fields -- collectively dubbed primary care specialties for their front-line position in the health care system -- have proven especially popular with UI medical students. Of last year's class, 57 percent entered primary care.

"The match results show that our efforts to foster interest in primary care careers among our students continue to succeed," says Dr. Robert P. Kelch, dean of the college. "We are a leading research-oriented medical center with strong programs in all medical specialties, but the college also is noted for its consistent contribution to the primary care needs of Iowa and the nation."

"Our curriculum emphasizes the role of physicians in their communities, giving all our students an opportunity to discover how they can best put their skills to use," adds Dr. Peter Densen, associate dean for student affairs and curriculum at the college. "We offer a broad-based education that gives graduates an array of opportunities, but we are pleased to see so many students recognize the importance of primary care."

Most students also were pleased with the results. Some 57 percent matched with their first choice of residency programs, 86 percent with one of their top three choices. Some 47 of this year's graduates will remain in Iowa for at least a year of post-graduate training at Iowa hospitals, including the UI Hospitals and Clinics.

For many, Match Day is the culmination of four years in medical school and visits to residency programs across the country. The National Residency Matching Program (NRMP) helps place graduating medical students in such programs. Most of the 175 students who will earn the doctor of medicine degree from the UI this year participated in the NRMP. The rest secured residencies through other specialty matching programs or through the armed forces, or opted to defer residency training.

Some 25 percent of the UI medical class selected residencies in family medicine, 19 percent in internal medicine, 15 percent in pediatrics, and 4 percent in obstetrics and gynecology. Among more specialized medical fields, diagnostic radiology and emergency medicine were the most popular career choices, each attracting 5 percent of UI students.

Students showed a markedly increased interest in pediatrics, which corresponds with national trends. The percentage of the 1998 class that will enter the field jumped nine points from last year's 6 percent. Family medicine continues to be another area of strength for the UI. The percentage of graduates pursuing the specialty is well above the national average of 16 percent cited by the NRMP.

"It's very gratifying to see this interest in pediatrics. Our students entering pediatrics residency programs will be good representatives of the college and good pediatricians," says

Dr. Jerold Woodhead, associate professor of pediatrics and director of the college's pediatrics clerkship and generalist core curriculum. "This particular class has shown an interest in pediatrics from their first year of medical school."

The UI College of Medicine is widely recognized as one of the nation's leading centers for primary care education. This year's U.S. News and World Report magazine survey of graduate programs ranked the college 11th among medical schools that excel in primary care, noting the college's strength in family medicine (10th in the nation), rural medicine (9th), internal medicine (14th) and pediatrics (21st).