ALGERINA PERNA, Baltimore Sun
September 9, 2009
As the United States grapples with a shortage of primary-care physicians, many in health care fear that access will sharply decline as health reform adds millions more Americans to the ranks of the insured.
A new study highlights a trend that could make things worse: Many medical schools produce more researchers and specialists than front-line doctors, especially those willing to work in underserved areas and among minorities. Public medical schools such as the University of Maryland ranked higher than private medical schools such as the Johns Hopkins University in meeting a "social mission.""The purpose of the study is not to denigrate the research of great universities," said Dr. Fitzhugh Mullan, professor of health policy at George Washington University and lead author of the study. "But we need to ask how medical schools can help with the whole spectrum of national needs."
The George Washington study, published June 15 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, generally found that medical schools in the Northeast performed poorly, as did schools with significant National Institutes of Health research funding. Historically black colleges and schools in small cities had higher overall rankings.
The study also found that public schools graduated higher proportions of primary-care doctors than private schools - the University of Maryland ranked 36th overall out of 141 medical schools. Johns Hopkins, which often is described as the nation's best medical school, ranked 122nd.