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Acad Med. 2015 Dec;90(12):1691-7. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000774.

Family Medicine Department Chairs' Opinions Regarding Scope of Practice.

Author information

L.E. Peterson is research director, American Board of Family Medicine, and assistant professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, Kentucky. B. Blackburn was a research assistant, American Board of Family Medicine, Lexington, Kentucky, at the time this study was done. R.L. Phillips Jr. is vice president for research and policy, American Board of Family Medicine, Washington, DC. A.G. Mainous III is chair of health services research, management, and policy, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, Florida.



Family physicians are trained broadly to provide the majority of health care across multiple settings; however, their scope of practice has narrowed. Department chairs' role modeling of a broad scope of practice may set the tone for faculty and trainees.


In 2013, the authors surveyed family medicine department chairs about their scope of practice, personal and department characteristics, and attitudes and beliefs about scope of practice and role modeling. They used descriptive statistics and bivariate analyses to test for associations between scope of practice, personal and department characteristics, and attitudes and beliefs. They created a Scope of Practice Index by summing the number of services each respondent provided to compare scope of practice across chairs.


Of 146 chairs, 88 responded (60.3% response rate); 85 were included in the final analysis. Sixty-five (77.4%) respondents were male; 73 (86.9%) were 51 years or older. Respondents spent a mean of 19.7% of their time in direct patient care and had a mean Scope of Practice Index of 11.9. Fifty-three (62.4%) disagreed that the scope of practice of family medicine was too broad for practicing physicians to keep up in all areas, and 56 (65.9%) believed that faculty should role model the full scope of practice to learners. Responses generally did not vary by respondents' personal scope of practice.


Family medicine department chairs believe that role modeling a broad scope of practice increases students' interest in family medicine and encourages residency graduates to provide a wide range of services.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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