WVU Medical Grads Lean Toward Primary Care

Bucking national trend, top choices are family medicine and pediatrics

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – This year’s class of medical graduates at West Virginia University learned where they would continue training this week – and the majority will focus on primary-care specialties such as family medicine, pediatrics and internal medicine.

The 105 students participated in the National Residency Match program this year. WVU held simultaneous “Match Day” ceremonies in Morgantown, Charleston, and Martinsburg on Thursday, according to Anne Cather, M.D., associate dean of student services and professional development in the WVU School of Medicine. When all the envelopes were opened, 19 had matched with family medicine training programs, 16 in pediatrics, 12 in internal medicine and five in obstetrics and gynecology. Another four will join combined internal medicine/pediatrics programs.

WVU graduates also matched with prestigious programs across the state and around the country in a wide range of medical specialties.

The strong showing of interest in family medicine and other primary care specialties distinguishes WVU from other medical schools across the country, said John E. Prescott, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine.

“Nationally, fewer than 8 percent of U.S. medical graduates matched to family medicine programs this year,” Prescott said. “At WVU, we more than doubled that -- 18 percent. I think this demonstrates that our students are oriented toward the needs of the state and choosing their careers accordingly.”

The results of the national match show that "there's a detachment between America's medical school production and health care need," said Rick Kellerman, M.D., of Wichita, Kan , president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. "Medical schools and medical students are going one way, and the needs of society are going the other way."

WVU exposes its students to primary care and rural health career opportunities throughout their medical education, Prescott noted. “We work with West Virginia students in middle school and high school to develop their interest in medicine and science, we require all our students to participate in rural health care during medical school, and we work hard to recruit our most promising graduates into our residency programs,” he said. “It pays off in the end for communities all across West Virginia.”

WVU’s graduates also showed a strong preference for continuing their education within the state. Forty-one of the graduates will train at West Virginia hospitals, with many remaining at WVU-related facilities in Morgantown, Charleston and the Eastern Panhandle.

Residency training typically takes three to five years. Residents practice medicine under the supervision of experienced physicians before being certified in a specialty.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, more than 15,000 U.S. medical school seniors applied for residency positions through the National Residency Matching Program this year.

- WVU -

For more information:
Steve Bovino, HSC News Service, (304) 293-7087

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