17. Boundaries or overlap: An examination of the community-oriented clinical practice of community medicine specialists and family/general practitioners

M. L. Russell, L. McIntyre

Abstract


We compared the work settings and “community-oriented clinical practice” of Community Medicine (CM) specialists and family physicians/general practitioners (FP).
We conducted secondary data analysis of the 2004 National Physician Survey (NPS) to examine main work setting and clinical activity reported by 154 CM (40% of eligible CM in Canada) and 11,041 FP (36% of eligible FP in Canada). Text data from the specialist questionnaire related to “most common conditions that you treat” were extracted from the Master database for CM specialists, and subjected to thematic analysis and coded.
CM specialists were more likely than FP to engage in “community medicine/public health” (59.7% vs 15.3%); while the opposite was found for primary care (13% vs. 78.2%). CM specialists were less likely to indicate a main work setting of private office/clinic/community health centre/community hospital than were FP (13.6% vs. 75.6%). Forty-five percent of CM provided a response to “most common conditions treated” with the remainder either leaving the item blank or indicating that they did not treat individual patients. The most frequently named conditions in rank order were: psychiatric disorders; public health program/activity; respiratory problems; hypertension; and metabolic disorders (diabetes).
There is some overlap in the professional activities and work settings of CM specialists and FP. The “most commonly treated conditions” suggest that some CM specialists may be practicing primary care as part of the Royal College career path of “community-oriented clinical practice.” However the “most commonly treated conditions” do not specifically indicate an orientation of that practice towards “an emphasis on health promotion and disease prevention” as also specified by the Royal College for that CM career path. This raises questions about the appropriateness of the current training requirements and career paths as delineated for CM specialists by the Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of Canada.
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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.25011/cim.v30i4.2777

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