RICHMOND (WRIC) - It's estimated that the U.S. will need an additional 50,000 family doctors to keep up with the demand for healthcare by 2025. The VCU School of Medicine is making an effort to fill the gaps.
Sheerin Habibullah is a second year medical student with dreams of working in a city. She can't think of any better way to make a difference than with a career in family medicine.
"Family physicians are often the first line in contacting patients and being able to pick up the clues to perhaps an evolving illness," she says.
Habibullah is enrolled in two programs at VCU helping to boost interest in family medicine with financial aid and other incentives.
"FM Stat" offers a concentrated course load for students most interested in this type of medicine.
Since another effort called "I2 CRP" started, 115 out of 124 enrolled students went into primary care for residence training.
In 2012, VCU was in the top ten medical schools in the country for the number of family physicians placed and the department keeps track of successes on a board in the hallway.
"It helps in recruiting new students," says Dr. Steven Crossman. "It helps in students recognizing their peers from years ahead of them and where they've gone. It helps give us a sense of, a visual sense, of how we're doing."
Students like seeing it too and knowing they'll make their marks soon enough.
"It's a really exciting time for primary care and family medicine," Habibullah says. "I'm really excited. I think it will be fun."
Crossman says both programs concentrating on primary care have recently received more funding and the dean is kicking off a campaign to offer scholarships to more students, including those who want to be a family doctor.
Average physicians begin their career $170,000 in debt and family doctors often make less than other specialties, so every incentive will help to attract more potential students.
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