We’ve blogged a lot about the primary care shortage in America (read a few posts about it here and here and here…and here) and the resulting impact this is having on patients who are looking for a primary care physician and can’t find one. But this is only one impact the shortage is having on the healthcare economy.
There are many primary care doctors who have made the choice to stick it out and remain “cognitive specialists” in a failing system, and while it is a struggle, many find a way to survive. There is strength in numbers though, and the ability for primary care physicians to stick together, recruit, and partner together to tackle the challenges that are thrown their way is reaching a tipping point whereby the numbers aren’t there to support a group approach to primary care practice – there simply aren’t enough doctors, especially in rural and underinsured areas.
When his colleague departed in December, family doctor Charles Bennettthought he would soon find a new partner for his private practice in Lusby. But he has had no luck for the past eight months.
“I’m still trying to find someone, but I don’t think it will get any better in the foreseeable future,” said Bennett, whose Calvert County practice employs four staff members. “The process is very time-consuming, and I am already very busy as it is.”
Bennett’s troubles stem from the fact that the United States faces a serious shortage of family physicians, especially in rural and poorer communities. There are too few primary care doctors and nurses to meet growing health care needs, according to a report released yesterday by the National Association of Community Health Centers. The study found availability depends on location.