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U.S. Efforts to Boost Number of Primary Care Doctors Have Failed
Date:1/10/2013

ercent of those who go into internal medicine will actually stay in primary care," he said.

Pugno said the situation calls for a national workforce commission to assess workforce needs, especially in shortage areas such as primary care, general surgery and pediatric psychiatry. He added that graduate medical education should be funded by a more straightforward payment system than Medicare.

Chen, who practices in primary care once a week in an underserved area of Washington, thinks part of the answer is to ensure that primary care physicians are paid commensurate with the other specialties. "It's not just about paying primary physicians more; it's also about bringing down the pay of other physicians," she said.

It's also important for medical students and residents to understand the importance and personal rewards of a career in primary care, Chen said. "It's one of the hardest areas of practice, but physicians often are told they're too smart to go into family medicine."

More information

For information about how to choose a primary care provider, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

SOURCES: Candice Chen, M.D. assistant research professor, department of health policy, George Washington University, Washington, D.C.; Perry Pugno, M.D., M.P.H., vice president for education, American Academy of Family Physicians, Leawood, Kan.; January 2013 Health Affairs


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