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Primary care physician shortage projected to reach 14 percent

Although new education and training programs have shown positive results in the development and retention of primary care physicians across Wisconsin, a new report released last Friday by the Wisconsin Council on Medical Education and Workforce (WCMEW) predicts a shortage of 745 primary care physicians by 2035.

The report, Mapping Our Way to Success: Wisconsin’s Physician Workforce, points to a higher demand for primary care physicians (PCP) driven by an expanding and aging population, combined with an estimated 40 percent of current PCPs retiring in the same time frame.

“To date, a largely uncoordinated approach to education and training has hampered a comprehensive solution to the impending problem of workforce shortages,” said WCMEW Executive Director George Quinn in this press release. “What we need now is wide-reaching system planning to deal with current and future severe shortages – across provider types.”

The report recommends strategies for continued emphasis on infrastructure and long-term planning, along with collecting and leveraging data for decision-making. Specific recommendations include:
• Expanding and enhancing coordination of clinical sites.
• Expanding rural and underserved programs by targeting students likely to practice in those areas.
• Building workforce into strategic planning processes.
• Developing Advanced Practice Clinician data for a more complete understanding of the workforce
• Identifying best practices and outcomes for team-based care.

WCMEW used data from the Wisconsin Medical Society and Wisconsin Health Information Organization to break down projected shortages of primary care physicians based on hospital service areas. The data show that currently 82.5 percent of Wisconsin’s total physicians are in metropolitan areas and less than 10 percent practice in rural areas, yet nearly one-fifth of the population is located in small towns or rural communities. Meanwhile, demand for primary care is expected to increase up to 40 percent in some areas, and deficits of 93.7 percent are possible in some rural or small communities.

Wisconsin Medical Society President Molli Rolli, MD, said the report confirms what the Society has been seeing for years—a number of physicians leaving the health care workforce.

“An important factor in this trend that isn’t highlighted in the report is how burnout is affecting physicians’ happiness in their practice, which impacts their decision on when to retire,” she said. “That’s why the Society is leading on how to improve physician satisfaction and wellness.”

WCMEW is a nonprofit, multistakeholder collaboration comprised of 12 member organizations including the Wisconsin Medical Society. Visit www.wcmew.org to learn more.

Back to July 19, 2018 Medigram