The Robert Graham Center, with researchers at IBM Watson Health and the American Board of Family Medicine, published a report examining state-level variation in PCP density.5 Using 2019 data from the American Medical Association Physician Masterfile and the U.S. Census Bureau, the ratio of PCPs per 100,000 residents was calculated.
As shown in Figure 1, there is considerable variation by state. Mississippi has the lowest PCP-to-population ratio, with 49.1 PCPs per 100,000 residents, whereas the District of Columbia has the highest ratio at 130.7 per 100,000.5 Differences in retirement trends and rurality of states complicate these data because some states with a higher PCP density, such as Vermont, also have a large percentage of family physicians reaching retirement age. On the other hand, many states with an already low PCP density, such as Mississippi, are at risk of losing even more PCPs to retirement.6
These trends in geographic distribution highlight the gaps in our shrinking national PCP workforce. Policy advances are needed to recruit medical students into primary care, expand residency training programs, engage a rural workforce, and retain current PCPs to address these widening gaps, which intimately affect access to care and national health outcomes.