KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Primary Care Shortage Worsens And An Illinois Clinic Experiments With A Program To Train More Nurses

The number of family care physicians continues to shrink while an Illinois-based clinic creates a plan to turn laid-off workers into nurses.

The Iowa City Press-Citizen reports on the reasons for the primary care shortage, including long hours, unpredictable schedules and greater administrative work and notes: "According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, about 8.2 percent of the 16,336 graduates of U.S. medical schools between July 2007 and June 2008 were first-year family medicine residents in 2008. This continued a drop from 8.3 percent in 2007 and 8.5 percent in 2006."

The Press-Citizen focuses on the local situation at the University of Iowa. "The numbers at the Carver College of Medicine at UI were slightly better, with 17, or nearly 12 percent, of its 143 graduates in 2009 choosing to practice family medicine, said Roger Tracy, assistant dean and director of the Office of Statewide Clinical Education Programs at the Carver College of Medicine. He said it continues a downward trend that saw the percentage of choices for family medicine drop from 37 percent in 1997 to 15 percent in 2008." Tracy also noted several ways to attract more students into family medicine, including the creation of incentives such as better reimbursements, loan forgiveness and programs to expose more students to primary care (Daniel, 10/5).

Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune reports on an effort to train more nurses: "Kathy Brockmann, corporate executive recruiter at Extended Care Clinical LLC, knows a hiring opportunity when she sees one. Despite the 9.8 percent U.S. unemployment rate, the Evanston-based health care consulting firm is worried about finding enough trained nurses and nursing assistants for the long-term-care facilities it serves. As the economy picks up, the shortage is likely to worsen, Brockmann said. So a recruiting committee she heads came up with the notion of providing paid nursing education at colleges to unemployed workers. ... Looking for quality talent during a downturn is smart for those companies that can afford to do so, experts said" (Meyer, 10/5).

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