Arizona continues to face shortage in primary care physicians

Aug 22, 2018, 4:51 AM

(Pexels photo)...

(Pexels photo)

(Pexels photo)

PHOENIX — There is a physician shortage in Arizona, with rural communities and primary care facilities seeing the most need.

Heidi Chumley, the executive dean at the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday that this shortage was predicted years ago.

“Five years ago, the Robert Graham Center predicted that Arizona would need an additional 2,000 primary care providers by the year 2030 to meet the demand,” she said.

“That predication called for a 50 percent increase in primary care physicians — that’s how desperate the situation in Arizona was believed to be.”

Today, Arizona ranks 42nd in the active number of health care professionals per 100,000 people.

It is estimated that almost 70 percent of Arizonans live in areas that have a shortage of health care professionals.

Chumley said she strongly believes the shortage of doctors in Arizona is affecting the quality of health care Arizonans receive.

“For the past 20 years, studies have been very clear about the value of primary care attributing to patients’ overall health,” she added.

“A higher ratio of primary care professionals to population results in better health outcomes, lower all-cause mortality and longer life expectancy,” Chumley said.

But international medical schools such as the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine are aiming to play a major role in contributing to the U.S. physician workforce.

Chumley said one in four practicing physicians in the United States was trained internationally, with roughly 25 percent of Arizona’s physicians being trained internationally.

In comparison, graduates from Arizona State University and University of Arizona accounted for 746 U.S. medical school applicants last year.

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Arizona continues to face shortage in primary care physicians