Ross University Blog

We need more primary care doctors

June 20, 2014

By Joseph Flaherty, MD, Dean and Chancellor

The looming shortage of primary care physicians in the US is an urgent problem. In the State of Florida, for example, that will mean a situation in which there will be 4,671 fewer primary care physicians than we need by the year 2030, according to a recent study released by the American Academy of Family Physicians’ Robert Graham Center. Similar data is coming from all states for two reasons: the Affordable Care Act is insuring more of the population and the large group of Baby-Boomer doctors is starting to retire. If you think it is difficult now to find a family medicine physician or a pediatrician and to schedule an appointment quickly, try to imagine a time when there are 38 percent fewer of these doctors, as is projected in Florida, to serve the population of patients who need them.

Numerous potential remedies to relieve the primary care shortage have been put forward—from financial incentives for those who practice in underserved areas, to a review of how medical students are selected. There are also discussions about reducing the total education time from medical school through primary care training. It is encouraging to see primary care receiving serious attention, and I believe we can expect to see greater numbers of medical students entering primary care upon graduation.

More than 70 percent of the RUSM graduates who enter residency this year will enter primary care fields. I am confident that we will continue to see large numbers of our graduates going into and staying in primary care. Why? Because at RUSM we strive to create a culture in which the day-to-day responsibilities and rewards of primary care practice are highly valued. Many of our teachers and some of our deans are primary care doctors. Our students start clinical skills training in their first semester in Dominica, which places a continuing emphasis on the personal communication with patients.

Tags: Leadership

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