Purpose: To study the demand for physician graduates from one school in one region of the country. The use of demand as a measure of potential regional variation should be of interest to medical educators and policymakers.
Method: All residency graduates of the University of Washington School of Medicine between 1975 and 1995 (n = 3,824) were surveyed about their ability to gain employment in a timely manner and whether they were recruiting physicians for their practices.
Results: The response rate was 50.29%. A non-responder survey was done using a subsample (n = 200), with a 28% return. Over 95% of the graduates had found employment in their desired specialties and locations within two years of finishing their residencies. This was the same for graduates over all years. Approximately 30% of all practices of respondents within the Northwest region were recruiting for new physicians (26% of specialty practices and 34% of generalist practices were recruiting). There was no difference between recruitment in the urban and rural practices or between respondents to the initial survey and those responding to the follow up.
Conclusions: Despite a significant oversupply of specialist physicians and at least a sufficient supply of generalist physicians nationally, there appears to be a strong demand for both specialists and generalists in the Northwest region of the country. This raises questions concerning the use of national averages to inform the education policies in specific regions of the country. More validated measures of demand are needed for future studies.
Dr. Crittenden is associate professor and chief, Department of Family Medicine, and director, Office of Education Policy, Harborview Medical Center, Seattle, Washington; Dr. Schaad is lecturer, Department of Medical Education; and Dr. Coombs is professor of family medicine and associate vice president. All are at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle.
Correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to Dr. Crittenden, Department of Family Medicine, Harborview Medical Center, Box 359781, 325 Ninth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104-2499; e-mail: 〈firstname.lastname@example.org〉.