Tuesday, September 02, 2014 Headlines & Global News

Scarcity of Primary Care Physicians Causes Growing Concern In U.S.

By Sam Goodwin | Jun 17, 2013 10:16 AM EDT

Scarcity of Primary Care Physicians Causes Growing Concerns In US
Scarcity of Primary Care Physicians Causes Growing Concerns In US (Photo : Flickr)

The scarcity of primary care physicians in the United States is a growing concern in the country as less than 25 per cent of new doctors opt for it.

While new doctors passing out from medical schools don't seem to be a problem in the United States, most of them do not opt for primary care, leaving a large void in the availability of primary care physicians.

In spite of this shortage and a growing demand for primary care physicians, less than 25 percent of new doctors opt for a career in this field.

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The situation in rural areas is even worse with less than one in 20 new doctors who choose to become primary care physicians opting to work in areas outside major cities and suburbs of the country, revealed the findings of a new study conducted by researchers from George Washington University School of Public Health and Human Services

"If residency programs do not ramp up the training of these physicians the shortage in primary care, especially in remote areas, will get worse," lead study author Candice Chen, MD, MPH, an Assistant Research Professor of Health Policy at SPHHS, said in a press release. "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."

For the study, Chen and her colleagues looked at the career choices of approximately 9,000 new doctors that graduated from 759 medical universities between 2006 and 2008. Three to five years after graduating, researchers found that only 25.2 percent of them became primary care physicians. However, authors of this study clarify that this number too could be an overestimation as it included graduates who practice as hospitalists.

The study also revealed that no students from 198 of the 759 medical institutions opted for a medical career in a rural area. Moreover, no students from 283 institutions practiced in Federally Qualified Health Centers.

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