Percentage of Primary Care Physicians Falls over Nine Years

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, August 15, 2019

Contact:
Leslie Champlin
Senior Public Relations Strategist
(800) 274-2237, Ext. 5224
lchampli@aafp.org 

Percentage of Primary Care Physicians Falls over Nine Years



WASHINGTON, DC — Current physician workforce policies have not only failed to increase the proportion of primary care physicians, but they have allowed that proportion to shrink. That’s a conclusion that could be drawn from research showing a drop in the percentage of the total U.S. physicians since the 2010 Council on Graduate Medical Education recommended policies to increase primary care to 40% of the overall physician workforce.

Writing in “Proportional Erosion of the Primary Care Physician Workforce Has Continued Since 2010” Robert Graham Center researchers reported that primary care physicians comprise 30% of the total physician workforce—down from 32% nine years ago.

Despite a decade of work building primary care training capacity to address a growing demand for primary care physicians, these findings suggest that their proportional production continues to decline. It also supports the need for policy-maker attention to community-based training in the locations where primary care is needed most, in order to guarantee Americans’ future access to primary care doctors, author Andrew Bazemore, MD, former Robert Graham Center medical director, and his colleagues write. They note that family physicians “are the largest contributor to the PC physician workforce, making up 40% of all PC physicians, followed by general internists and general pediatricians.”

However, four in 10 family physicians are over age 55 and nearing retirement age while a growing proportion of primary care residents choose to subspecialize or become hospitalists. The result access to primary care “is likely to worsen.”

The American Academy of Family Physicians has joined seven other national and international family education organizations to launch the 25X2030 initiative. Together, they are calling for 25% of all U.S. medical school seniors and graduates—both allopathic and osteopathic—to match into family medicine by the year 2030.

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About the Robert Graham Center

The Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care works to improve individual and population health by enhancing the delivery of primary care. The Center staff generates and analyzes evidence that brings a family medicine and primary care perspective to health policy deliberations at local, state, and national levels.

Founded in 1999, the Robert Graham Center is an independent research unit affiliated with the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). The information and opinions contained in research from the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of the AAFP.