Consider these elements, excerpted from the COGME report.
- Barely one-third of U.S. doctors are primary care providers.
- 17%, nearly one in five, general internists certified just 20 years ago have since left internal medicine.
- The mean earnings difference between a specialist and a primary care doctor is $3.5 million in a lifetime.
- The percentage of U.S. medical graduates choosing family medicine has dropped from 14% to 8% between 2000 to 2005.
- Approximately 50 million Americans live in health professional shortage areas. While 20% of the U.S. population is rural, only 9% of the nation's physicians serve those areas.
Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.