FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 13, 2014
Senior Public Relations Strategist
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237 Ext. 5224
LEAWOOD, Kan. —— The United States could end the shortage of family physicians by increasing family medicine residency training positions to 4,475 by 2025, according to the recently issued Family Physician Workforce Reform: Recommendations of the American Academy of Family Physicians. In order to reach that goal, the graduate medical education system would need to add 65 family medicine training positions each year over the next 10 years, the policy says.
“To support efforts to ensure health care access for all Americans, the primary care workforce needs to grow from 209,000 to approximately 261,000,” the policy says. “Since family physicians currently make up about 38 percent of the primary care workforce, a conservative estimate is that an additional 21,000 family physicians are necessary to meet their share of the increased need. The annual production of new family physicians would have to increase by an average of about 65 each year, increasing from 3,500 today to 4,475 by 2025.”
The policy has wide-ranging implications for medical school expansion, graduate medical education funders, patient access to care and physician payment systems, according to Reid Blackwelder, MD, president of the AAFP.
“There is no single solution to the primary care physician shortage,” Blackwelder said. “It must be comprehensive. It must start with medical school recruitment and continue through to an improved practice environment that gives patients access to timely, comprehensive and high quality care.”
Stan Kozakowski, MD, director of medical education at the AAFP, agreed. “We are the only developed nation in the world that doesn’t have a national health care workforce plan, and as a result, we remain challenged in meeting the health care needs of the population,” he said.
In addition to increasing the number of family medicine residency positions, the revised AAFP policy calls for:
The policy incorporates the recently released Four Pillars for Primary Care Physician Workforce Reform: A Blueprint for Future Activity(www.annfammed.org), published by the AAFP and the Council of Academic Family Medicine(www.academicfamilymedicine.org).
“If Americans are to have access to the care they need, we must have a system that recruits medical students into primary care, supports the schools that produce more primary care graduates, expands community-based residency programs in communities that need services, and establishes a patient-centered practice environment that rewards the quality of care, not the number of tests or procedures,” Blackwelder said. “The AAFP’s new workforce policy reflects the comprehensive approach that must be taken if patients across the country are to have access to the care they need.”
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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 120,900 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.
Approximately one in five of all office visits are made to family physicians. That is nearly 192 million office visits each year — nearly 66 million more than the next largest medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care.
To learn more about the specialty of family medicine, the AAFP's positions on issues and clinical care, and for downloadable multi-media highlighting family medicine, visit www.aafp.org/media. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website, www.FamilyDoctor.org(www.familydoctor.org).
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Family Physician Shortage Could End With Targeted Policies that Value Primary Care