Author(s): Morra DJ, Regehr G, Ginsburg S
Medical students have had a declining interest in family medicine as a career. Some studies have shown a small inverse relationship between debt levels and primary care, but it is unclear how students perceive remuneration in different specialties and how these perceptions might influence career choice.
Medical students at one school were surveyed to understand their perceptions of physician remuneration and to gain insight into how these perceptions might affect career selection.
Response rate was 72% (560/781 students). Students' estimates of physician income were accurate throughout training, with the overall estimate for family medicine being lower than the actual income by only $10,656. The vast majority of students agreed with the statement that family physicians get paid too little (85%-89% of each class). The importance of payment as a factor in career decision making increased with higher debt and with advancing training.
Students are able to accurately predict income by specialty from an early stage of training and have a negative perception of income in family medicine. The perception that family physicians make too little money could be an important driver--or at least a modifier--in the lack of interest in family medicine.