SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – California could soon be dealing with a severe shortage of primary care doctors, according to a new report from UCSF.
“The forecast that we put together suggests that by 2030, our shortage of primary care physicians is going to be somewhere about 12 to 17 percent,” said Joanne Spetz, associate director for research at the UCSF Healthforce Center and the study’s co-author.
Spetz said part of the problem is our medical school capacity.
“California has a lot of excellent medical schools, some of the best in the country,” Spetz told KCBS. “But given the size of our population, it isn’t enough to produce the number people that we need.”
It’s not just the schools, it’s also the number of available residency slots.
“A lot of people finished medical school and then go somewhere else for their residency training,” Spetz said. “So we need to have enough space for our residency training, that when people finish medical school, this is an attractive place to do the rest of their training and their career.”
On the other hand, nurse practitioners and physician assistants are more likely to be educated here and then stay. A growing number of patients are seeing a nurse or physician’s assistant instead of the doctor, and data show the quality of their care is about as good as a physician’s.