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Do Early Career Indicators of Clinical Skill Predict Subsequent Career Outcomes and Practice Characteristics for General Internists?


Address correspondence to Bradley Michael Gray, Ph.D., American Board of Internal Medicine, 501 Walnut Street, Suit 1700, Philadelphia PA, 19130; e-mail:



To study relationships between clinical skill measures assessed at the beginning of general internists' careers and their career outcomes and practice characteristics.

Data Sources

General Internist Community Tracking Study Physician Survey respondents (2000–2001, 2004–2005) linked with residency program evaluations and American Board of Internal Medicine board certification examination score records; n = 2,331.

Study Design

Cross-sectional regressions of career outcome and practice characteristic measures on board examination scores/success, residency evaluations interacted with residency type, and potential confounding variables.

Principal Findings

Failure to achieve board certification was associated with $27,206 (18 percent, p < .05) less income and 14.9 percent more minority patients relative to physicians scoring in the bottom quartile on their initial examination who eventually became certified (p < .01). Other skill measures were not associated with income. Scoring in the top rather than bottom quartile on the board certification examination was associated with 9 percent increased likelihood of reporting high career satisfaction (p < .05). Among physicians trained in community hospital residency programs, lower evaluations were associated with 14.5 percent higher share of minority patients (p < .05). Both skill measures were associated with practice type.


There are associations between early career skill measures and career outcomes. In addition, minority patients are more likely to be treated by physicians with lower early career clinical skills measures than nonminority patients.