Primary Care Doctors: Shortage In Nevada

RENO, NV - Dr. Derek Beenfeldt is a third-year family medicine resident at the University of Nevada School Of Medicine.

He says he enjoys the wide variety of patients he gets to see every day in the clinic.

He also knows patient loads both here and when he enters private practice are going to get heavier as health care reform takes hold.

“I anticipate that I will see a lot of patients. The good thing as a primary care physician about that is that you know, the federal government is going to have to compensate us in some fashion, and I think that's gong to be better for primary care physicians throughout the state,” says Dr. Beenfeldt.

Dr. Beenfeldt says residents like he who go into primary care will be in high demand in the coming years.

So high in fact, there will be a shortage of them.

In Nevada the shortage is particularly bad as thousands of Nevadans will become newly insured with the health care overhaul.

“We have always graduated a lot of folks in medicine and nursing to begin with, so to try and keep up with the anticipated demand not only from expanded health insurance coverage, the Medicade expansion,” says John Packman, Director of Health Policy Research, which recently conducted a study of the health workforce in Nevada.

Medicade enrollments in Nevada will swell to about 490,000 statewide, and for clinics such as HAWC, there will be a need for not only primary care physicians, but eventually facilities as well.

“It could be as many as 12 to 14,000 people that we would see in the next few years. But it all boils down to needing more physicians,” says Michael Johnson, Community Health Alliance Chief Operating Officer.

The organization runs the HAWC Clinic.

About 70% of the Family Practice residents at the University of Nevada School of Medicine stay in Nevada to practice.

That's better than average.

UNSOM Residency directors hope to continue with that average as not only Nevada, but the rest of the nation thirsts for primary care physicians.