MU was named a top-ranked school in family medicine by the American Academy of Family Physicians in early May for its higher-than-average number of residents who chose that field.
Ashley Bentley, student interest strategist for AAFP, said the organization selects the top 10 schools based on the percentage of graduating students who have chosen the family medicine track. AAFP releases the list to thank the schools as well as provide examples for medical schools trying to improve their family medicine programs.
"We highlight schools who are doing the best so that they can be recognized, and also so medical schools that are trying to graduate more family physicians can learn from what is working," Bentley said.
Family physicians are important to the country's health care because they a range of care, from preventive to chronic, and are able to treat a variety of illnesses, Bentley said.
"Family physicians are the only physicians who treat all organs, ailments, ages and genders, unlike other specialties," she said.
Of more than 400 residents at MU's medical school, at least 65 have chosen family medicine.
"Over the last three years, MU is among the medical schools graduating the highest percentage of physicians choosing family medicine as a specialty." said Steven Zweig, chairman of the Department of Family and Community Medicine. "We average about sixteen percent choosing family medicine, which is two times the rate of the average medical school."
Zweig said that even though MU is above average for the number of graduates specialized in family medicine, to keep up with demand about 30 percent of medical students would need to choose that as their field.
"There's also a value and joy in being part of a community," Zweig said. "As we build trust with our patients, they are also more likely to follow our recommendations."
Family physicians are especially important to rural areas, where medical help could sometimes be miles away. To address this, MU has set up a rural training track, which in turn has helped increase the number of medical school graduates specializing in family medicine.
This training track was one of the factors that led MU students to choose family medicine. Zweig said the department provides role models that are involved in training for all four years.