When it came time to apply for residency programs, College of Human Medicine student Cullen Salada had a hard time deciding on a specialty. Throughout his schooling, he had enjoyed his rotations in many specialties, including pediatrics, internal medicine and surgery.
He chose family medicine.
“Family medicine was that perfect mix of everything,” Salada said. “It was everything I was looking for,” allowing him to care for patients “quite literally from cradle to grave.”
Many of his classmates similarly applied and were accepted in family medicine, internal medicine and pediatric residency programs, thus helping address a looming shortage of primary care physicians.
A recent study published in the journal Family Medicine listed the College of Human Medicine as among the top medical schools in the country to graduate students who chose family medicine as a career. The study found that in 2015, just over 13 percent of the school’s graduates entered family medicine residency programs, well above the national average of about 8 percent for all MD-granting schools.
Of the 134 schools in the country that confer MD degrees, the College of Human Medicine was 15th in the nation in graduating family physicians, according to John Meigs, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
“I’m very proud of our reputation as a leader in training primary care physicians,” Norman Beauchamp Jr., dean of the College of Human Medicine said after addressing a roomful of fourth-year medical students.
It was Match Day, March 17, and 200 medical students, as well as thousands more around the country, were counting down the minutes to when they would be allowed to tear open envelopes and learn what residency program had accepted them.
“We’ve been very good at recruiting students interested in primary care,” Beauchamp said, “and from a diversity of backgrounds.”
A study released in March by the Association of American Medical Colleges estimated that by 2030 the country will face a shortage of between 7,300 and 43,100 primary care physicians. By then, the number of Americans aged 65 and older is expected to grow by 55 percent, increasing the need for more primary care physicians, as well as for specialties.
At noon, the students tore open their envelopes and cheers erupted around the room. Of the 200 students accepted in residency programs, 42.5 percent chose primary care.
All specialties are important in meeting the growing need, Beauchamp said, but primary care physicians provide a continuity of care for their patients throughout their lives.
“It isn’t just about helping patients when they’re sick,” he said, “but how do we keep them well?”
The college’s staff of medical researchers will help answer that question by discovering new treatments, he added, but in many cases, it is the primary care doctors who will implement them.
“I got my number one choice,” Petra Angelova said – an internal medicine residency at the University of Chicago. “It’s the perfect program in the best city in the world.”
Jeffrey Sweers, his wife, Allyssa, and their 13-month old daughter, Zoe, will move to Marquette, where he was accepted in a family medicine residency.
“I like the relationships that you develop in family medicine,” he said. “The College of Human Medicine really emphasizes the relationships.”
“It’s a great day to be in green,” Beauchamp told the students, noting that Match Day this year fell on St. Patrick’s Day. “Who among you thinks that Michigan State University College of Human Medicine graduates are among the best in the country?”
The response was unanimous.
“I remember sitting in a venue like this on Match Day,” said Beauchamp, a 1990 College of Human Medicine graduate. “So exciting.”
But “today we celebrate you,” he said. “We are so proud of you.”