Primary Care: Current Problems and Proposed Solutions

May 2010
Health Affairs , Vol. 29, No. 5
Thomas Bodenheimer, Hoangmai H. Pham

In 2005, approximately 400,000 people provided primary medical care in the United States. About 300,000 were physicians, and another 100,000 were nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Yet primary care faces a growing crisis, in part because increasing numbers of U.S. medical graduates are avoiding careers in adult primary care. Sixty-five million Americans live in what are officially deemed primary care shortage areas, and adults throughout the United States face difficulty obtaining prompt access to primary care. A variety of strategies are being tried to improve primary care access, even without a large increase in the primary care workforce.

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