Teaching Health Centers are Integral to Future Access to Care

Ensuring that Americans have access to a primary care physician remains one of the foremost challenges in U.S. health care policy. The maldistribution and shortage of physicians in our rural and underserved areas are stubborn problems, and they must be solved. But the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program—proven to be highly successful in training primary care physicians in community-based settings—will end Sept. 30 without Congressional action. One solution is the Training the Next Generation of Primary Care Doctors Act of 2017.Currently, 59 teaching health centers are training 742 residents across 27 states and the District of Columbia. Research into teaching health center effectiveness demonstrates they are extremely successful in meeting their mission.

AAFP Letter Supporting S. 304
The AAFP welcomed the introduction of bipartisan legislation that would reauthorize a highly successful program for training physicians in community-based settings and will provide for expanding teaching health center residency programs into new medically underserved and rural communities.

The value of teaching health centers(publichealth.gwu.edu)
Multiple studies have shown that teaching health centers both increase the number of students choosing primary care as their specialty and improve access to services for the 66 million Americans(www.kff.org) who live in health professions shortage areas. Teaching health centers report they have more than 100 applicants for every residency position.(publichealth.gwu.edu)

  • More than 90 percent of graduates intend to work in primary care.
  • More than three out of four in underserved communities.
  • Teaching health center graduates are three times more likely than traditionally trained residents to practice primary care in an underserved community-based setting.

The threat to teaching health centers
One of multiple studies, “Teaching Health Center GME Funding Instability Threatens Program Viability” demonstrates the inadequacy of short-term and inadequate funding for the Teaching Health Center GME program. Family medicine residency programs train new physicians for three years. Two-year extensions of the THCGME program don’t allow residents to complete their training and prevent residency programs from making long-term plans.

Video: Teaching health centers from the patients’ and residents’ perspective
Residents who have trained in teaching health centers talk about the breadth of their clinical expertise and depth of their commitment to patients as a result of their educational experience. Patients reflect on the importance of teaching health centers in providing care they could get nowhere else.