Shortage of Primary Care Physicians: Why It’s Happening and What It Means for You

The statistics vary, but the consensus is clear: The United States is currently facing a shortage of primary care physicians (PCPs)—and it’s only going to get worse.

According to a study published by Annals of Family Medicine, the total number of office visits to PCPs will grow from 462 million in 2008 to 565 million in 2025. That demand will require an additional 52,000 PCPs by the year 2025.

So what factors are contributing to this shortage?

  • More patients in need of primary care

With the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, the number of patients in need of primary care will explode in 2014. But beyond that, U.S. Census projections show an overall population growth of 15.2 percent between 2010 and 2025, with the largest increase occurring among people over 65 years of age (60%). This aging baby boomer generation translates to more patients with chronic conditions—and a greater demand for healthcare. At the same time, experienced physicians within this generation will be moving into retirement.

  • Medical school students choosing specialty fields

The number of new physicians who are entering the workforce doesn’t equal the number of retiring physicians. Compared to past decades, many medical school students have opted to go into a specialty field, rather than general medicine.

PCPs often receive lower compensation, a higher volume of patients, and less support than specialists do. Combine those drawbacks with a hefty amount of medical school debt, and it’s clear why many are going the specialty route. Although the last several years have seen a small increase in the number of medical students choosing primary care, that period of growth barely made a dent in the overall physician shortage. Plus, this younger generation of doctors desires a better work-life balance, which means casino francais en ligne that even if they decide to pursue primary care, they often choose to work fewer hours.

What does this mean for you and your practice?

  • Excellent job outlook for primary care physicians

If you’re looking to make a move, job opportunities abound. More practices and healthcare organizations are looking to increase the number of PCPs on staff. In fact, within the next 12 months, 77.6 percent of medical group administrators plan to hire more PCPs. And thanks to the physician shortage, those who are looking to hire will have to offer competitive compensation packages and employment agreements in order to attract talent.

  • Opportunity to expand to a team-based practice approach

With more patients and fewer physicians, many practices are expanding their teams to include non-physician practitioners (NPPs) such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners. Hiring NPPs may require you to provide additional supervision. However, you’ll be able to offer your patients better access to high-quality care, and it will cost you less than if you brought on another physician.

 

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