The Future of Internal Medicine

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Internal medicine may be in its twilight because it has failed to address the shortage of primary care physicians by training more general internists. Data from several sources indicate that progressively fewer persons are entering general internal medicine as opposed to its subspecialties. The reasons for this decline include adverse experiences in medical school, an unfavorable patient mix, declining incomes, and increasing hassles in caring for patients. A series of reforms, such as improving the teaching in medical school, strengthening divisions of general medicine, and establishing financial incentives, are proposed to reverse this trend. Other actions that must be taken include stopping the proliferation of subspecialty certificates, designating and accrediting primary care tracks, and cutting subspecialty positions. Internal medicine's fate is in its own hands, and the discipline must reorient itself to conform to societal needs.

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