The debate surrounding graduate medical education (GME) revolves around whether one should dedicate themselves to their current residency or focus on future fellowship opportunities. This confusion becomes more pronounced after completing fellowship programs, especially in inpatient settings, where specialists consult with generalists who have completed residency programs and obtained board certification without pursuing further specialization.
The fundamental question is whether generalists should be regarded and treated as specialists. Looking towards the future, it would be prudent for all GME candidates to undergo a transitional year after graduating from medical school. This transitional year curriculum would succinctly cover the essential aspects of adult medicine, ensuring a strong foundation for all future physicians. This transitional year might resemble the compulsory one-year rotating medical internship that many international medical graduates must complete before graduating from their respective medical schools.
Subsequently, GME candidates interested in pursuing specialization in fields such as cardiology, pulmonology, nephrology, and similar specialties should not be required to spend years in internal medicine residency programs, as they will primarily practice within their chosen specializations and can always consult with generalists for their patients’ needs.
In summary, after completing the mandatory transitional year, GME candidates aiming to become adult generalists, pediatric generalists, or all-age generalists should respectively enroll in internal medicine residency, pediatric medicine residency, or family medicine residency programs. This would enable GME candidates who wish to specialize in adult cardiology, adult pulmonology, adult nephrology, and similar adult specialties to bypass internal medicine residency. However, those aspiring to pursue pediatric cardiology, pediatric pulmonology, pediatric nephrology, and similar pediatric specialties should still complete pediatric medicine residency, just as those aiming for cardiac anesthesia, neuro-anesthesia, and similar anesthesia specialties should not skip anesthesiology residency.
The key takeaway is that if the internal medicine residency program serves as merely a stepping stone for future specialization, GME can evolve by establishing a concise and focused transitional year as the mandatory preliminary phase for all GME candidates. Subsequently, future adult generalists can specialize in internal medicine, while future adult cardiologists, pulmonologists, nephrologists, and similar specialists can pursue their chosen fields without requiring internal medicine in their training.