Study pinpoints primary care physician shortages

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted July 1, 2013

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The U.S. faces an uneven distribution of primary care physicians in poor and rural areas compared with other parts of the country, according to a June analysis by the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care.

On average, for every 100,000 people in the U.S., there are about 80 primary care physicians. In rural areas, it’s about 68 primary care physicians for every 100,000 patients, compared with urban areas that have 84 physicians for the same number of patients.

The report indicates that 46,981 primary care physicians, 14,351 nurse practitioners and 7,569 physician assistants work in rural areas. It said that to meet a goal of 2,000 patients per doctor set by the Health Resources and Services Administration, the U.S. needs about 2,670 more rural physicians and 3,970 additional urban physicians. The report said the most likely urban patients to see a shortage of physicians were those who live in economically poor areas.

The Robert Graham Center was founded in 1999 as an independent research unit working under the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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