Internal medicine is a broad medical speciality and choosing the residency programme opens up a variety of career tracks. Despite this broad choice of subspecialities, we found that within our residency programme for internal medicine in the Nijmegen region between 1981 and 2000, 29% of the residents did not become internists but switched to other medical specialities. To further complicate the efficiency of the residency programme, about 20% of the residents who became internists did not finish within six years, but had a delay of two years due to combined internal medicine/PhD tracks (the training for internist/clinical investigator). In another 20% there is a delay of six to 12 months due to part-time training tracks as well as to (multiple) pregnancies of female residents and parental leave of both sexes.
Our data imply that nationwide data are urgently needed to re-evaluate the manpower planning for internal medicine by taking into consideration not only the number of residents starting in the residency programme but also to include the number of residents who actually do become internists.