The nation's shortage of primary care physicians isn't going away anytime soon, but it's improving slightly. For the fourth straight year, the number of medical students selecting primary care specialties has increased, the National Resident Matching Program says. But applicants have filled only half of the open primary care positions.
Congress has taken note of the shortage. Five lawmakers reintroduced a bill Monday increasing the number of government-funded training slots at teaching hospitals. The need is dire: The U.S. will need 45,000 more primary care physicians and 46,000 surgeons and medical specialists by 2020. We'll need action on several fronts, but this bill is a promising step.