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    Budget cuts signal trouble for medical education

     

    Although the American Academy of Family Physicians threw support to President Obama’s initiative for Medicaid expansion and Medicare payment reform, across-the-board cuts to graduate medical education (GME) threaten family medicine residency programs.

    “Such broad and untargeted cuts would jeopardize family medicine residency programs at a time when they require critical investment to sustain the growing interest in training primary care physicians,” says Glen Stream, MD, MBI, AAFP board chairman. “The evidence shows that improving quality and reining in costs depend on a strong primary care foundation. We have just begun to see a turnaround in the number of students looking for family medicine residency training, but without adequate support for training these physicians, that turnaround could quickly fade.”

    Between 2000 and 2013, medical academia closed 71 family medicine programs, Stream says. “The trend reversed last year, when no family medicine programs closed and seven new family medicine residency programs were accredited.” If GME funding must be reduced, the AAFP wants Congress to preserve explicit support for primary care residency programs.

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