PurposeTo examine the contributions of school-level variables associated with primary care career choice to students' enthusiasm for and perceived encouragement toward primary care.
MethodMultilevel analysis of 264 fourth-year students and 500 clinical faculty members at 59 medical schools using data obtained in 1993 to 1994 from telephone interviews of a national stratified probability sample of students (response rate 90%) and faculty (response rate 81%).
ResultsOn average, students reported slightly positive regard for primary care and felt neither supported nor unsupported in their interests in primary care. Students' reports of encouragement toward primary care showed some consistency within schools (intraclass correlation =.08); their regard for primary care did not (intraclass correlation = .02). Regard for primary care was associated with students' intended specialty choices (p <.001), with students who planned to enter primary care careers reporting more positive attitudes. Students' perceptions of encouragement toward primary care careers were unrelated to their intended specialty choices, but significantly related to their schools' historical primary care production (p <.0001), federal research funding (p <.01), and school ownership (p <.01).
ConclusionSchools that have primary care missions and have historically produced more generalists transmit higher levels of encouragement to their students about primary care. However, even at schools with strong primary care missions, students hold unenthusiastic attitudes about primary care practice.
© 1998 Association of American Medical Colleges