U.S. Producing ‘Abysmally Low’ Number Of Primary Care Doctors U.S. Producing ‘Abysmally Low’ Number Of Primary Care Doctors

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doctorsDespite a shortage of U.S. primary care doctors, less than 25 percent of new doctors go into this field, and fewer still work in rural areas, researchers say.

Lead study author Dr. Candice Chen, an assistant research professor of the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, said the study also found only 4.8 percent of the new primary care physicians set up shop in rural areas.

“If residency programs do not ramp up the training of these physicians the shortage in primary care, especially in remote areas, will get worse,” Chen said in a statement. “The study’s findings raise questions about whether federally funded graduate medical education institutions are meeting the nation’s need for more primary care physicians.”

Chen and colleagues studied the career paths of 8,977 physicians who had graduated from 759 medical residency sites from 2006-08. Three to five years after the program ended, the researchers found 25.2 percent of the physicians worked as primary care doctors, although this number almost certainly was an overestimate because it included graduates who practiced as hospitalists, Chen said.

In addition, the researchers found 198 out of 759 institutions produced no rural physicians at all during the study period.

Currently, the United States is producing primary care physicians at rates that are “abysmally low,” Chen said.

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  1. Maybe time to get rid of the field as practitioners and have them just supervise NP’s and PA’s. Don’t see this improving due to discrepancies in salaries so ramp up enrollment in NP programs.

  2. Pay them! Maybe then medical students will want to go into primary care. Otherwise, these students will try to get lucrative specialties, and only the “leftovers” will become primary care physicians, leaving us will lousy care.

  3. There’s a two-word reason for this shortage: student loans. Most doctors finish with such crushing loan debt that they have to enter a specialty that will let them make lots of money. Primary care just doesn’t pay the way the specialties do. And there’s no way to pay for medical training out-of-pocket unless your dad’s a millionaire.

    Want to stem the shortage? Set up a loan forgiveness program for doctors who go into primary care. Add additional forgiveness for those who go into rural practice. And it wouldn’t hurt to check into why the cost of medical education is so high. With college tuition shooting up faster than inflation, maybe we should do some investigating.

  4. “With the way that they are reimbursed thdy can¬ít even pay their student loans.”

    Tell me about it! My wife is a primary care physician and she’ll still be paying off her medical school loans with her social security checks.

    And the situation is getting worse, not better.

  5. #4 Progressive-Oldtimer,

    There’s a a two-word reason for this shortage: low pay. Get rid of Obamacare, and frivolous lawsuits (which make malpractice insurance to be a crushing fee).

    Want to stem the shortage? Set up a system where doctors can be paid fairly. Also, allow them to be responsible and repay their loans. Where else should the money be coming from? Uncle Sam doesn’t have money. (Did you forget that they owe China $17,000,000,000,000.00+?). If the taxpayers have money to pay doctors, well, let them pay doctors for their WORK and SERVICE, not for having attended medical school.


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