Shortage of Primary Care Physicians, Nurses Grows More Serious in U.S.
Community health centers have a shortage of more than 3,200 primary care providers and nurses, with larger shortages in rural and low-income areas, according to a report released Monday by the National Association of Community Health Centers, CQ HealthBeat reports.
For the report, NACHC, George Washington University and the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care analyzed 2006 data from the Health Resources and Services Administration.
The report found that rural states -- such as Nevada, Alabama and Oklahoma -- have the largest shortages (Nylen, CQ HealthBeat, 8/11). In addition, the report found that 56 million U.S. residents do not have a regular source of health care because of shortages of physicians in their areas.
Community health centers will require an additional 60,000 primary care professionals and 44,500 nurses to provide health care for those residents and current patients by 2015, according to the report (Lhee, Baltimore Sun, 8/12).
In response to the shortages, the report recommends increased funds for federal programs that place health professionals in medically underserved areas.
The report also encourages medical schools to invest in programs that target minority and rural students, who studies have found are more likely to practice in medically underserved or rural areas after graduation (CQ HealthBeat, 8/11).
Dan Hawkins, senior vice president of programs and policy at NACHC and one of the authors of the report, said, "This is the unfortunate reality of our health care system. It's an example of how the market triumphs over public policy," adding, "Even if universal health care comes into play tomorrow, not everyone would have access to a health care provider" (Baltimore Sun, 8/12).
The study is available online (.pdf).