Research: Hospitalist Careers May Be Attracting More Family Physicians


Leslie Champlin
Senior Public Relations Strategist
(800) 274-2237, Ext. 5224 


WASHINGTON, DC — Growing interest in providing hospital-only care among recently graduated family physicians could worsen the shortage of community-based primary care physicians, according to researchers at the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care.

Researcher Douglas Kamerow, MD, MPH, and his Graham Center colleagues asked family physicians who have been in practice three years to describe their primary patient care activities.

Nine percent reported they did not provide outpatient continuity care and considered themselves to be hospitalists. Although they worked longer hours than their colleagues, the hospitalists reported higher income—$250,000 versus $185,000 for their community-based counterparts—and reported greater satisfaction with their principal practice than their non-hospitalist peers.

The findings were reported in “Characteristics of Young Family Physician Hospitalists(” in the September-October issue of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.

“If these findings are generalizable, interest in hospital medicine among family physicians may grow beyond the almost 9 percent seen in this survey,” Kamerow writes. “If a larger proportion of family physicians become hospitalists, primary care physician shortages might be exacerbated.”

Physician workforce studies have documented an ongoing shortage of primary care doctors. A 2018 report from the Association of American Medical Colleges projected that demand for primary care physicians will exceed supply by up to 49,300 physicians. The study reinforces earlier American Academy of Family Physicians research, which projected a shortage of 39,000 family physicians by 2020 and a Health Affairs study that predicted a shortage of 44,00 adult primary care physicians by 2025.

The AAFP policy paper on workforce reform offers several recommendations for addressing the ongoing primary care physician shortage. Among them are funding a national health workforce commission established by the Affordable Care Act, increasing the primary care physician workforce from 209,000 to 261,000 and increasing the number of new family physicians from 3,500 to 4,475 by 2025.


About the Robert Graham Center

The Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care works to improve individual and population health by enhancing the delivery of primary care. The Center staff generates and analyzes evidence that brings a family medicine and primary care perspective to health policy deliberations at local, state, and national levels.

Founded in 1999, the Robert Graham Center is an independent research unit affiliated with the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). The information and opinions contained in research from the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of the AAFP.