November 12, 2013

Incentives and physician specialty choice

Specialty choice in times of economic crisis: a cross-sectional survey of Spanish medical students

Two opposite trends coincide, on one hand Health Policy is strengthening primary care, and on the other hand the number of students that apply for it is decreasing. The shortage of primary care practitioners should be an issue of concern for any regulator. However, current professional incentives are set up in a different opposite direction.
You'll find the details in this article. Key messages:
Results: 978 medical students (25% of the nationwide population of students in their final year)
participated. Perceived job availability had the largest impact on specialty preference. Each 10% increment in the probability of obtaining employment increased the odds of preferring a specialty by 33.7% (95% CI 27.2% to 40.5%). Job availability was four times as important as compensation from private practice in determining specialty choice (95% CI 1.7 to 6.8). We observed considerable heterogeneity in the influence of lifestyle and work hours, with students who preferred such specialties as Cardiovascular Surgery and Obstetrics and Gynaecology valuing longer rather than shorter workdays.
Conclusions: In the midst of an ongoing economic crisis, job availability has assumed critical importance as a determinant of specialty preference among Spanish medical students. In view of the shortage of practitioners of FCM, public policies that take advantage of the enhanced perceived job availability of FCM may help steer medical school graduates into this specialty.
Meanwhile, you can check today some details about  the salaries in the public sector. An this link shows how physicians are really paid in one region. The summary is that all you thought and presumably knew about it (average salaries and complements), is completely wrong when you have detailed information about individual salaries. I strongly suggest to have a look at it, and find the first primary care physician salary.