The nation's medical schools are gearing up to graduate nearly a third more doctors than in the past, but concerns are rising that too many will be trained for specialties rather than primary care, reported The Fiscal Times.
Many incoming medical students are gravitating toward specialties that pay better than primary care. Observers worry that this could conspire to drive up hospital and overall healthcare costs rather than serve to contain them by placing more emphasis on preventative care, according to the article.
The pay gap is glaring, with specialists such as cardiologists commanding as much as $300,000 a year to start and often earning close to $1 million a year by the time they're in their 40s, according to the Fiscal Times. By contrast, primary care physicians earn an average of $150,000 to $175,000 a year, reported RTT News.
"Cardiology pays twice as much as primary care. That's a really hard incentive structure to fight against," Atul Grover, a physician and chief of public policy at the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), told the Fiscal Times.
According to AAMC data, more than 21,300 students will matriculate at the nation's medical schools in 2016, 30 percent higher than levels a decade ago.
The AAMC claims that about a third of those students will go into primary care, but the System for Studying Health System Change contends that number is closer to 20 percent, notes the Fiscal Times.