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California is in Desperate Need of Primary-Care Physicians

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If you’re a primary-care physician who is looking for a job, then you might want to fix your gaze westward to The Golden State. According to an article by Doug Desjardins in California Healthfax and reprinted by HealthLeaders Media, “The current primary-care workforce is barely adequate and the state will need an additional 8,243 primary-care physicians by 2030, says the California Primary Care Association (CPCA).”

That’s an increase of 32 percent in just 15 years, CPCA’s The Horizon 2030 study found.

Carmela Castellano-Garcia, president and chief executive officer of CPCA, described the current primary-care physician workforce “in many parts of the state” as “not adequate” and “only getting worse.”

Solutions abound, but none of them are guaranteed fixes. As Desjardins reports, “One is that California do more to create its own supply of primary-care physicians. The Horizon 2030 study notes that ‘California ranks 43rd in the nation at 17.8 medical students per 100,000’ due to a limited medical-school capacity, which leads 63 percent of all California medical school students to attend medical school out of state.”

When the UC Riverside School of Medicine was unveiled in 2013, it ended a 45-year streak in which no new medical schools opened anywhere in the state. This is baffling, the study pointed out, since “California ranks first in the nation with 62.4 percent of its in-state medical school graduates subsequently practicing in the state…” Therefore, “…an expansion in California medical-school capacity could result in a much-needed increase in the physician supply.”

Other recommendations from the CPCA include expanding the state’s student-loan repayment programs, shifting more responsibility to the physician-practice staff, and opening more residencies for healthcare facilities in underserved areas.

Other recent studies back up CPCA’s findings.

The California Academy of Family Physicians (CAFP) reported last year that only 51 residency programs existed throughout the state and only 140 new residents were being trained by these programs each year.

According to CAFP, "That just is not enough, as one-third of physicians in the state will retire by 2030, our population is growing, and millions more Californians have gained coverage under healthcare reform.”

And the California HealthCare Foundation “found that California has 63 primary-care physicians per 100,000 residents, a total that's within the parameters of 60 to 80 physicians per 100,000 residents recommended by the Council on Graduate Medical Education. But the study also found that physicians are distributed unevenly and that 42 of the state's 58 counties have fewer than 60 primary-care physicians per 100,000 residents.”

As physicians who are looking for jobs, California has a need for your services. Would you consider seeking employment there?

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