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America is in "Desperate need for primary care physicians"


Dr. Ted Epperly is President of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Dr. Ted Epperly is President of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

LEAWOOD, Kan. — Demand for family physicians is up and growing. Proposals for health system reform focus on increasing the number of primary care physicians in America. 


Despite those trends, the number of future physicians who chose family medicine dipped this year, according to the 2009 National Resident Matching Program, the system by which graduating medical students choose residency training programs.

National Resident Matching Program results announced today showed that a total of 2,329 graduating medical students matched to family medicine training programs. This is a decrease in total student matches from 2008, when 2,404 family medicine residency positions were filled. Of those positions, 1,083 U.S. seniors selected family medicine, compared to 1,172 in 2008. The other 1,156 positions were filled by international medical graduates, U.S. citizens who graduated from overseas medical schools, graduates of osteopathic schools and students who graduated off-cycle due to events such as illness, maternity leave or international training rotations. 

After seeing a trend toward stabilization and even slight growth in medical students’ interest in family medicine in previous years, the 2009 results are a disappointment, particularly at a time when demand for family physicians has skyrocketed, according to Ted Epperly, M.D., president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. 

“If America is to right the ship of health care and turn it toward higher quality, controlled costs, better outcomes, and less economic, geographic and ethnic disparity, it must increase the number of primary care physicians,” Epperly said in a statement responding to the 2009 Match. “We cannot meet that goal without dramatically changing the policies that affect our medical education system, graduate medical education and the incentives that draw students to careers in primary care.”


The AAFP was among the first organizations to warn about a looming shortage of family physicians in 2006. At that time, the AAFP research indicated the U.S. health care system would need 139,531 family physicians to meet demand.

“That means we must graduate 4,439 family physicians each year to meet that goal,” said Epperly. “In our current environment, the nation is attracting only half the number of future family physicians that we will need.”

Meanwhile, demand for primary care physicians continues to skyrocket, according to national surveys. In its most recent recruitment survey, Merritt Hawkins, a national physician recruiting company, reported primary care physician search assignments had more than doubled from 341 in 2003 to 848 last year.

 “The numbers are clear, the American people and our health care system are increasingly in desperate need for primary care physicians,” said Epperly.


  1. You could push for an end to the monopoly on the selection, education, training and employment of health care providers.

    You could push for tort reform that requires decisions based on science and evidence based medicine instead of the emotional manipulation of class envious and ignorant jurors.

    You could join forces with those who seek a streamlined FDA so that medical products are less expensive and more innovative for the consumers due to competition among producers.

    You could push for and end to the Mafioso like licensing and accrediting system so that affiliations are voluntary and based on sound business practices.

    If you notice not one so called expert on health care reform has even mentioned increasing the number of providers and creating an environment where they can work with the latest and greatest in American technology without the fear of excessive and frivolous litigation.

    Now we’re doomed with a digital database that contains our most personal secrets and a system designed to constrain costs by limiting services. The AMA is all for it because it will mean a guaranteed paycheck for slipshod service that runs rampant in VA, Military, Prison, Indian Reservation and Inner City Hospitals.

  2. M Bandeira Teixeira

    How can young Doctors Choose Primary Care, Family Practice, with the
    Current Re-embursement.
    I am a General Surgeon, just like Primary Care One must be Crazy to
    Choose either one of this Specialties.
    The Re-embursement for Other Sub-specialties it’s so much Greater,
    with less Volume, Less Calls and Greater Reward.
    mauricio teixeira,md,facs

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