Meharry Medical Students Buck the Trend Toward Increased Specialization

According to a recent survey published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, only 2 percent of the students currently enrolled in U.S. medical schools plan a career in primary care. These general practitioners tend to be at the low end of the earnings scale for medical doctors. On average they earn about $100,000 when they start out after completing their medical training. In contrast, students choosing to specialize can earn a starting income of $250,000 or more with earnings potential in the millions of dollars. This pay gap is resulting in an acute shortage of primary care physicians.

But at Meharry Medical College, the historically black educational institution in Nashville, more than one half of all students are preparing for a career in primary care medicine. Meharry, founded in 1876, currently enrolls more than 700 medical students. Its mission is not only to increase the number of black doctors but to provide more physicians dedicated to community-based health services and to eliminate racial health disparities.