February 20, 2012
To the Editor,
Regarding "A push to train more primary-care doctors" (Feb. 19): It is good that medical schools are now emphasizing primary care. But, to produce the number of primary care physicians needed, their training period must be reduced from eleven years to about eight. This can be done if the schools focus on producing practical-minded physicians by tailoring their education to what is actually needed in practice.
It is questionable whether courses like organic chemistry, physics, and biochemistry are really necessary for primary care doctors. These subjects are helpful in training specialists but they often deter students who are otherwise well- qualified, from going on to primary care.
The idea of training “practical doctors” was discussed in the early 1900s but it lost to the fervor of the times for specialization. Fortunately, the need for practical (primary care) is now receiving national attention.
Edward Volpintesta MD