Primary Care Workforce Shortage In Some NC Counties

Primary Care Workforce Shortage In Some NC Counties

2:42pm Feb 14, 2020
A patient is assisted at Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Lumberton, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

North Carolina is struggling with a shortage of primary care workers, and health leaders want to change that.

Primary care providers often serve as the first entry point into the healthcare system. They include physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and certified nurse-midwives.

The workforce helps to promote preventive care and improve the health outcomes of a community.

Dr. Adam Zolotor with the North Carolina Institute of Medicine says it’s recommended to have one primary care provider per 1,500 residents.

“In North Carolina, currently, there are 62 counties that meet that goal and 38 counties that do not meet that goal," he says. "Those are largely counties in eastern North Carolina and in the southern Piedmont, some counties out west as well. By and large, these are counties with higher rates of poverty and poorer health.”

In the recently released Healthy North Carolina report, which outlines state health goals for the next decade, leaders want to see all 100 counties meeting this recommendation by 2030.

The report suggests an increase in residency positions in rural areas, increasing telehealth primary care initiatives, and loan repayment programs as some of the ways to encourage providers in affected areas and draw more to these regions.      

Support your
public radio station