3 factors that draw physicians to primary care

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Primary care physicians will be in short supply in the U.S. in the coming years, according to projections. Yet, there are some common threads for why doctors choose a career in primary care, according to Physicians Practice.

The publication recently asked a number of family physicians and medical students why they chose to go into the field. Based on their responses, here are three reasons:

The opportunity to build relationships with patients. “I considered primary care early on because it offered the opportunity to provide continuity of care. Being able to see patients over the trajectory of their lifetime has significant advantages,” says Kelly Thibert, D.O., national president of the American Medical Student Association. Knowing the details of patients’ lives can be an advantage in diagnosing and treating them, she says.

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The variety of the job. “As a family medicine physician, every day is different. Each patient who walks through my door has their own story and medical mystery waiting to be solved,” says Minoo D’Cruz, M.D., a family medicine resident at Memorial Hospital and Brown University in Rhode Island. There’s the chance to take on diverse roles, including pediatric medicine, geriatric medicine, obstetric and newborn care, teaching, academics, administration and policy making, she says.

The chance to improve people’s health. “Being a primary care physician gives you the unique opportunity to improve patients’ lives through prevention,” says Kathryn Boling, M.D., a family medicine physician at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. She’s helped patients quit smoking, stop drinking soda, improve their diet and exercise more.

“While practicing this kind of medicine may not come with the same kind of glory that an interventional cardiologist gets when he opens a clogged artery, it saves lives and improves the quality of life,” Boling says.

It can also pay to be a primary care doctor. A recent salary survey found compensation for primary care doctors in 2015 outpaced increases for physicians in specialty care.

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