Workforce Shortages, Increased Patient Populations, and Funding Woes Pressure U.S. Primary-Care System

The experts say…

There are some rock stars and heroes of primary care that are not as well-known to medical students as they should be.

Elbert Huang, MD

Elbert Huang, MD

former president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, hospitalist, Scotland Memorial Hospital, Laurinburg, N.C.

Only about 32% of physicians in the U.S. are practicing primary care….We’re going in the wrong direction.

Kathleen Klink, MD

Kathleen Klink, MD

Director of the Division of Medicine and Dentistry in the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)

Many newer osteopathic schools are positioning themselves in rural communities, helping them attract students who might not have gone to medical school otherwise.

Ed Salsberg

Ed Salsberg

Director of the National Center for Health Workforce Analysis in the Health Resources and Services Administration

If hospitalists did not exist, there would still be declining interest in primary care among medical students and residents.

Vineet Arora, MD, MPP, FHM

Vineet Arora, MD, MPP, FHM

Hospitalist, University of Chicago

We’re all in the same workforce; we’re all trying to take care of patients. The discussion needs to be on how do we coordinate, not over turf wars.

Lori Heim, MD

Lori Heim, MD

Former president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, hospitalist, Scotland Memorial Hospital, Laurinburg, N.C.

What we’re looking at now is that there’s a shortage of somewhere around 90,000 physicians in the next 10 years, increasing in the five years beyond that to 125,000 or more.

Atul Grover, MD, PhD

Atul Grover, MD, PhD

Chief public policy officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges

 

It’s been about 15 years since the last surge of interest in primary care as a career, when U.S. medical graduates temporarily reversed a long decline by flocking to family medicine, general internal medicine, and pediatrics. Newly minted doctors responded enthusiastically to a widely held perception in the mid-1990s that primary care would be central to a brave new paradigm of managed healthcare delivery.

That profound change never materialized, and the primary-care workforce has since resumed a downward slide that is sounding alarm bells throughout the country. Even more distressing, the medical profession’s recent misfortunes have spread far beyond the doctor’s office.

“What we’re looking at now is that there’s a shortage of somewhere around 90,000 physicians in the next 10 years, increasing in the five years beyond that to 125,000 or more,” says Atul Grover, MD, PhD, chief public policy officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges. The association’s estimates suggest that the 10- and 15-year shortfalls will be split nearly evenly between primary care and other specialties.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *