Graham Center One-Pager

Physician Workforce: The Special Case of Health Centers and the National Health Service Corps



FREE PREVIEW Log in or buy this issue to read the full article. AAFP members and paid subscribers get free access to all articles. Subscribe now.


FREE PREVIEW Subscribe or buy this issue. AAFP members and paid subscribers get free access to all articles.

Am Fam Physician. 2005 Jul 15;72(2):235.

Federally funded health centers and the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) depend on family physicians (FPs) and general practitioners (GPs) to meet the needs of millions of medically underserved people. Policy makers and workforce planners should consider how changes in the production of FPs would affect these programs.

For 40 years, the national network of community, migrant, rural, and homeless health centers has been delivering high-quality, cost-effective primary and preventive health care to low-income and otherwise medically underserved communities.1 They serve more than 3,600 communities in every U.S. state and territory. In 2003, federally funded health centers provided nearly 50 million visits for more than 12 million people who would otherwise have had great difficulty accessing care. Primary care physicians composed 95 percent of the physician staffing; more than one half were FPs or GPs.2

The NHSC addresses extreme physician distribution problems by placing physicians in locations that have difficulty attracting health care resources, and from 1971 through 1999 placed more than 18,000 health care professionals. Since the NHSC’s inception, FPs and GPs have dominated the physician workforce, contributing nearly 16,000 full-time equivalents (FTEs; i.e., one physician giving the equivalent of one full-time year of service), and making up 55 percent of the total FTEs (see accompanying figure).3 In 1999, FPs and GPs composed 78 percent of the NHSC primary care physician FTEs, and nearly 70 percent of non-federal physicians, in whole-county Health Professional Shortage Areas.4

These health care safety net programs depend on FPs to provide medical homes to millions of underserved people. Workforce planning must consider how changes in the production and training of FPs would affect them.

Proportion of FTE Primary Care Physicians in NHSC Sites

Figure.

Proportion of FTE primary care physicians in NHSC sites, 1972 to 1999. (FTE = full-time equivalent; NHSC = National Health Service Corps; FP = family physician; GP = general practitioner; GIM = general internist; GPED = general pediatrician.)

Information from reference 3.

View Large

Proportion of FTE Primary Care Physicians in NHSC Sites


Figure.

Proportion of FTE primary care physicians in NHSC sites, 1972 to 1999. (FTE = full-time equivalent; NHSC = National Health Service Corps; FP = family physician; GP = general practitioner; GIM = general internist; GPED = general pediatrician.)

Information from reference 3.

Proportion of FTE Primary Care Physicians in NHSC Sites


Figure.

Proportion of FTE primary care physicians in NHSC sites, 1972 to 1999. (FTE = full-time equivalent; NHSC = National Health Service Corps; FP = family physician; GP = general practitioner; GIM = general internist; GPED = general pediatrician.)

Information from reference 3.

NOTE: The information and opinions contained in research from the Graham Center do not necessarily reflect the views or the policy of the AAFP.

Adapted from the Graham Center One-Pager #32. Phillips RL, Fryer GE, Ruddy GR, McCann JL, Dodoo MS, Klein LS, et al. Physician workforce: the special case of health centers and the national health service corps. July 2005. Available online at: http://www.graham-center.org/onepager32.xml. From the Robert Graham Center: Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care, 1350 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite 201, Washington, DC 20036 (telephone: 202-331-3360; fax: 202-331-3374; e-mail: policy@aafp.org).

 

REFERENCES

1. A nation’s health at risk II: a front row seat in a changing health care system. Bethesda, Md.: National Association of Community Health Centers, August 2004.

2. Uniform Data System. Bureau of Primary Health Care, Rockville, Md.

3. National Health Service Corps. Analysis by the Robert Graham Center, 2004.

4. Green LA, Dodoo MS, Ruddy G, Fryer GE, Phillips RL, McCann JL, et al. The physician workforce of the United States: a family medicine perspective. Washington, D.C.: Robert Graham Center, 2004.



Copyright © 2005 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact afpserv@aafp.org for copyright questions and/or permission requests.

Want to use this article elsewhere? Get Permissions


Article Tools

  • Print page
  • Share this page
  • AFP CME Quiz

Information From Industry

More in Pubmed

Navigate this Article