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More Women Entering Primary Care

Lifestyle, prestige, debt all influence graduates' specialty choices

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FRIDAY, Aug. 21, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Gender significantly influences choice of specialty, with female osteopathic graduates 75 percent more likely to enter primary care (PC) than men, according to a study recently published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

Katherine M. Stefani, M.P.H., from the Midwestern University Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine in Glendale, and colleagues analyzed responses from the annual American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine graduate survey (2007 to 2016). Self-reported practice decision considerations were assessed.

The researchers found that during the study period, the mean percentage of graduates pursuing PC was 31.3 percent, while 68.7 percent pursued non-PC specialties. The percentage of non-PC students grew from 22.9 percent in 2007 to 30.6 percent in 2016. Women were 1.75 times more likely to choose PC compared with men. Lifestyle was the most important factor each year, regardless of specialty (75.3 percent for PC versus 63.3 percent for non-PC). Prestige and income level were more likely to be reported as "no or minor influence" for students entering PC versus students entering non-PC specialties. Compared with students entering PC, debt level was more likely to be a "major influence" to students choosing to enter non-PC specialties.

"Considering the critical need for primary care physicians in the United States, there's great value in understanding our primary care pipeline," a coauthor said in a statement.

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