Physician Supply: Small rise in primary care

March 21, 2008

The per-capita supply of primary care physicians increased slightly from 1995 to 2005, according to a new report from the US Government Accountability Office.

The per-capita supply of primary care physicians increased slightly from 1995 to 2005, according to a new report from the US Government Accountability Office. The 1.2 percent rise per 100,000 people may not go far toward correcting the imbalance of primary care doctors to specialists in some areas of the country or relieving shortages of primary care physicians, but the GAO report did convey some good news: The supply of nurse practitioners per 100,000 people jumped by 9.4 percent from 1999 to 2005, while the per-capita pool of physician assistants rose by nearly 4 percent from 1995 to 2007. (Data for identical time periods wasn't available, but the GAO says the average annual percentage change isn't sensitive to these differences.) So even though primary care doctors continue to be spread thin, there's an opportunity for them to plug gaps in their practices by recruiting some of these other professionals.