Teaching Health Centers: Building a Primary Care Workforce for Underserved Communities

Topic Overview

To achieve the quadruple aim of health care – better health, better experience, lower cost, and clinician satisfaction – a robust primary care workforce is needed. Despite this need to grow the primary care workforce, physician shortages persist, particularly in rural and underserved areas. In 2011, the Affordable Care Act established the Teaching Health Center (THC) program as an initiative to increase primary care and dental training in community-based clinics such as community health centers. The shift to community-based training centers was intended to immediately increase health services access in underserved areas and to prepare trainees to care for vulnerable populations. Today, research shows that THC graduates are more likely to remain in primary care and to care for rural and underserved communities than their counterparts in traditional training programs. Despite its early successes, the THC program lacks sustainable funding and faces uncertainty as federal funding requires reauthorization every few years.

Join us for a primary care forum to discuss the impact of THCs on communities and explore thoughtful policy solutions to achieve the THC program’s full potential.


Candice Chen, MD, MPH
Associate Professor
Milken Institute School of Public Health
The George Washington University

Blake Fagan, MD
Chief Education Officer, Mountain Area Health Education Center
Professor, Department of Family Medicine
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Medicine

Eleni O’Donovan, MD
Associate Program Director
The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education
Unity Health Care


Brian Antono, MD, MPH
Robert L. Phillips, Jr, Health Policy Fellow
Robert Graham Center