Where Are the Doctors? Primary Care Physician Shortage in the United States




Morris, Taylor E.

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New Voices in Public Policy


The United States is experiencing a trend that may leave many Americans without primary care services. Medical students prefer entering specialties instead of primary care. Combined with previously set primary care residency caps, this trend has created a shortage of primary care physicians (PCPs). This analysis addresses the issues medical students have with primary care, which include limited availability of primary care residencies. PCPs receive a lower salary than specialists, making it difficult to pay off student loans. For various reasons, medical students perceive the lifestyle of primary care to be unpleasant and prefer entering a specialty field. Our focus is on attracting more medical students into primary care and retaining PCPs so that Americans have greater access to primary care services. This analysis provides four alternatives to the status quo. Our recommendation is to increase mandatory funding to the National Health Service Corps and to adopt two office models (mixed-office and satellite) for PCPs. This recommendation provides incentive for medical students to pay off student loans quicker and provides Americans with greater access to primary care services. This analysis provides solutions that are easily implemented and effectively increase the number of practicing PCPs.



Public Health, Medicine, Medical Education