We were inspired to become primary care physicians. Now we’re reconsidering a field in crisis

Nearly three years ago, we began training as primary care doctors in two residency programs at a Harvard-affiliated teaching hospital. We understood the value of longitudinal patient-doctor relationships and wagered that primary care would be the bedrock of this nation’s health care system.

That was even after hearing the warnings: predictions of a national shortage of more than 44,000 primary care physicians (PCPs) by 2035, rampant physician burnout, and a workforce saddled with two hours of required documentation for every hour of patient care.

Nevertheless, we felt inspired to join the front lines of health care.

Yet when we finish our residencies on June 28, neither of us will be practicing traditional primary care. We are not alone in turning away from this field: Approximately 80% of internal medicine residents, including nearly two-thirds of those who specifically chose primary care tracks, do not plan to pursue careers in primary care.

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