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Social Class and Specialty Preference Among Medical Students

Опубликовано на портале: 19-05-2004
John J. Condon
Научный руководитель: Lindsey Churchill
Организация: City University of New York
Подтип: PhD
Тематические разделы: Социология, Экономическая социология, Экономическая социология: Социально-экономическая дифференциация. Бедность, Социальная стратификация

Medicine is and has been a highly prestigious profession. It both produces and reproduces members of the upper class. Its high status has long been accepted as legitimate by society due to the tremendous sacrifices its members make both in the length and difficulty of their training and the content of their work. However, medicine is currently facing problems. It is under siege by managed care organizations and the federal government, which not only want to regulate fees that physicians receive but to intervene in their professional decision making. One of the initiatives currently under way, both by the government and the medical profession is the production of more generalist physicians. Generalist physicians are needed to provide the vital first level of care and act as gate keepers to the hospital system. They also are needed to reduce overall medical costs, and not least of all, to restore public trust in the medical profession as one dedicated to public as well as private interests.

A great deal of literature has been devoted to the question: where will these primary care physicians come from? How can an elite profession such as medicine convince half of its recruits to accept less prestigious positions as generalist physicians? In its study of how to recruit and train generalists, the medical profession has largely overlooked the issue of social class. This study states that social class analysis can both explain the specialist/generalist imbalance and point to ways to identify and recruit more generalist physicians. Social class may act as a form of socialization which determines attitudes about generalist medicine before the student enters medical school. Through survey analysis, this study will look at the attitudes that medical students have regarding specialism and generalism. It then will determine how these attitudes are divided along lines of social class and will offer suggestions on how to locate more students with generalist tendencies.

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