Unit 7 Discussion 1
The Global Shortage of Primary Care Providers
Global healthcare systems have been experiencing a consistent shortage of primary care providers, worsening in rural regions compared to urban areas. Notably, various policymakers have asserted that the deficit in this number is driven by distinct factors, including the working conditions not being favorable to attract recruits (Hackey et al., 2018). Several surveys indicated that a considerable proportion of 29% of the present providers reported being overextended and overworked. In comparison, a majority of 52.5% indicated being at total capacity regarding their current patient load. In short, these providers have become responsible for delivering more care within an environment characterized by concerns of low reimbursement, a growing paperwork burden, and difficult working conditions. Therefore, a simple increase in the number of physicians will not solve the shortage considering most medical students report very low interest in primary care (Hackey, 2018). The primary driver is a mismatch between the expectations of numerous physicians and the demands for delivering primary care.
The strategies that countries need to implement to increase the primary care workforce need to focus less on achieving high numbers and making primary care an appealing job. One of the strategies is to change the structure and funding provided within the medical education system (Klein, 2021). The system needs to be structured so that students will feel comfortable and have adequate resources to take up the course without straining a lot in their other aspects of life. The second strategy is to create the appeal of primary care. This appeal will start by enabling health plans and providers to pursue innovations that would revolutionize the primary care experiences more satisfying and financially rewarding. This would need a permanent increase in the fees paid for each service and capitated providers’ payments. The third recommendation is upholding team-based care within this field (Klein, 2021). Incorporating different strategies to foster the practice of team-based care will ensure that the provider schedules are freed up while the patients are still receiving adequate care. There is also a need to leverage the skills of nurse practitioners and other providers. This could be done by changing the scope of practice laws to allow nurse practitioners to work independently. This increases the supply of p[roviders who have had their services restricted for a long time. Only advanced practice nurses are allowed to provide care services (Klein, 2021). These are options that countries could consider to create an appeal for primary care providing, consequently increasing the workforce in terms of quality and quantity.
Hackey, R. B., Grasso, V., LaRochelle, M., & Seaver, K. (2018). Rethinking the shortage of primary care physicians. Journal of the American Academy of PAs, 31(6), 47-50.
Klein, S. (2021). Strengthening the primary care workforce to meet population needs. Retrieved from https://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/newsletter-article/strengthening-primary-care-workforce-meet-population-needs
This is an insightful discussion, especially acknowledging that society is fully feeling the strain of shortage in healthcare workers and other crucial medical staff members. Despite the problem pervading for several years, only the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted this shortage and the stresses it was causing to the available primary care workers. Notably, there are still ways that the countries could incorporate to increase the numbers and provide better quality care. I agree with your second strategy of bringing back the inactive or retired health professionals since it would save on the time needed to build a new workforce. This approach would help unburden the present workforce while allowing the recruits to gain more experience filling the shortage.
I agree with your discussion, which provides essential insights on the shortage of physicians that caused a strain on the entire healthcare system, especially during the COVID pandemic. Notably, strategies such as a change to the medical education structure and the use of team-based methodologies in the routines for physicians would help cover up the shortage and reduce the stresses among the current workforce. The working conditions and the reimbursement will ensure that more people join the primary care workforce.