The axiom physician heal thyself might be better applied to the state of primary care medicine, if the results of a survey conducted by the Primary Care Collaborative and the Larry A. Green Center are any indication. Based on responses from 847 physicians in 49 states, it’s not a pretty picture for providers or patients. Asked to assess the state of primary care in general, 46% chose the word “crumbling” while approximately 40% said they themselves are “mentally and financially fragile.” This should not be surprising given that only 22% of respondents consider their practices fully staffed, with 44% having open clinical positions and 68% having nonclinical staff positions they “cannot fill.” Consequently, 59% say patient visits take longer. The fact that one out of four respondents said they expect to leave primary care within the next 3 years doesn’t offer much hope for turning things around. On the other hand, the sudden availability of experienced clinicians looking for a new way to practice medicine could wind up being an advantage for urgent care centers fighting to fill their own staff positions. And, as JUCM and JUCM News readers know, the prospects for urgent care look rosy by comparison, with “outside” money from venture capitalists infusing new industry growth.
‘Crumbling’ and ‘Fragile’: Physicians Have Spoken on the Perceived State of Primary Care