With the passage of healthcare reform, an estimated thirty two million new patients will try to find primary care doctors. That’s not going to be so easy because we already face a shortage of primary care doctors and about 13,000 more will be needed to take care of those newly eligible for insurance.
According to the American Medical Association, there are about 312,000 primary care doctors practicing in the United States. That includes family medicine, general practice (GP), internal medicine, and pediatrics. (In addition, there are 43,000 ob-gyn’s who also may serve as primary care doctors.) The estimate that another 13,000 will be needed comes from a study done by the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care in partnership with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Sixty five million Americans already live in areas that don’t have enough primary care doctors. And relief is not on the way anytime soon. It takes 5 to 8 years for a first year medical student to be trained as a primary care doctor. And the trend for budding doctors over the past decade has been away from primary care and towards more lucrative specialties. Read more »