Kaplan Test Prep Survey: Less Than a Third of Pre-Meds Plan to Go into Primary Care, Diagnosing a Deteriorating Doctor Shortage

  Kaplan Test Prep Survey: Less Than a Third of Pre-Meds Plan to Go into
  Primary Care, Diagnosing a Deteriorating Doctor Shortage Crisis Across the
  United States

Business Wire

NEW YORK -- February 20, 2013

Don’t expect to get a doctor’s appointment quicker or spend less time in the
waiting room of your primary care physician anytime soon. According to a
recent Kaplan Test Prep survey of 543 pre-medical students*, just 32% say they
plan to become primary care physicians after earning their MD, while 68% say
they plan to become specialists (i.e. cardiologist, neurologist,
anesthesiologist, etc.). Of the 68% who plan to become specialists, 86% say
the main reason is “academic/personal interest;” only 2% cited “better
salary,” although specialists are known to make significantly more than
primary care physicians.

This lack of interest in pursuing a career in primary care is troubling news
for Americans at a time when the projected shortage of primary care physicians
is expected to balloon from 9,000 today to about 65,000 over the next 20
years. The main reasons for the shortage: doctors from the Baby Boom
generation are rapidly retiring and their fellow Baby Boomers increasingly
need medical care as they age. Medical school enrollment is actually up over
the past few years, but not at a fast enough clip to stem the tide.

The medical education community, led by the Association of American Medical
Colleges, which represents all 141 accredited U.S. and 17 accredited Canadian
allopathic medical schools, has been preparing for the physician shortage by
taking several measures: building new medical schools around the country and
expanding the number of seats for new students at existing medical
schools—with a goal of 30% by 2015, which will result in an additional 5,000
new MD’s annually. Medical schools are also exploring the possibility of
shortening medical school from its current four years to three years, so
doctors go into practice quicker. This would be popular among aspiring
doctors: 71% of pre-meds in Kaplan’s survey said that all other factors being
equal, they’d be more likely to attend a three-year program than a four-year

“This is among the most exciting times in both medical education and
healthcare in generations,” said Owen Farcy, director of pre-health programs,
Kaplan Test Prep. “With the Affordable Care Act set to take full effect in
2014 and patient demographics changing rapidly, the need for more primary care
doctors will only intensify. While pre-meds say that the main reason they are
set on becoming specialists is because of their personal or academic interest,
we also think earning potential is understandably a key factor considering how
much debt most medical school graduates are saddled with. It’s not about
greed, but rather about getting their financial lives in order.” Farcy also
notes that shaving a year off of medical school could save students as much as
$50,000 in tuition and fees.

Farcy points out that 2015 is important, not only because it’s the year the
AAMC hopes to meet its medical school expansion goal, but also when the AAMC
will launch the new MCAT, the medical school admissions exam required by
nearly every accredited medical school across the United States and Canada.
Changes to the new MCAT include the addition of subjects in the behavioral and
social sciences, advanced science concepts in biochemistry and molecular
biology, and expanded critical thinking throughout the exam. While the writing
section has already been eliminated as of this year, the additional content
will make the 2015 MCAT more than an hour longer than the current exam—going
from 5 ½ hours to roughly 7 hours.

For more information about the upcoming changes to the MCAT, including advice
for current pre-meds about how they will be impacted, visit

To schedule an interview with a Kaplan Test Prep medical school admissions
expert, contact Russell Schaffer at russell.schaffer@kaplan.com or

* The survey was conducted via email in January and February 2013 of 543
pre-med students who took a Kaplan Test Prep MCAT course

About Kaplan Test Prep

Kaplan Test Prep (www.kaptest.com) is a premier provider of educational and
career services for individuals, schools and businesses. Established in 1938,
Kaplan is the world leader in the test prep industry. With a comprehensive
menu of online offerings as well as a complete array of print books and
digital products, Kaplan offers preparation for more than 90 standardized
tests, including entrance exams for secondary school, college and graduate
school, as well as professional licensing exams for attorneys, physicians and
nurses. Kaplan also provides private tutoring and graduate admissions
consulting services.

Note to editors: Kaplan is a subsidiary of The Washington Post Company (NYSE:


Kaplan Test Prep
Russell Schaffer, 212-453-7538
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