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4 Ways Hospitals Fought the Physician Shortage in 2012

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It is no secret that the nation is facing a dire physician shortage. A recent study from the Annals of Family Medicine determined the country will need about 52,000 more primary care physicians by 2025, and some hospitals and health systems are already feeling the pinch – and doing something about it.

Here are four ways healthcare organizations across the country combated the physician shortage this year. These strategies were implemented at individual organizations, but also serve as examples for how healthcare providers may fight the shortage in years to come.

1. Adding residents or new residency programs

Some organizations are training more medical students in residency programs in order to add more physicians to the pipeline.

Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare planned to expand its residency programs in Florida in 2014 in order to train more care providers.

The University of Montana in Missoula partnered with medical providers to create a family medicine residency program, the Family Medicine Residency of Western Montana, in October.

2. Creating primary care innovation centers

Primary care institutes can help alleviate the physician shortage in two ways: by incentivizing the profession and innovating ways to make primary care work flows more efficient.

In November, Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, Conn., and the University of Connecticut School of Medicine in Farmington opened the Connecticut Institute for Primary Care Innovation.

California planned to launch the California Advanced Primary Care Institute, a non-profit organization, in 2013 to curb the effects of the physician shortage.

3. Utilizing non-physician practitioners

More hospitals implemented strategies to incorporate advanced practitioners into patient care routines this year. In fact, recent research from HealthECareers indicated the hiring of nurse practitioners and physician assistants rose across the nation, in part because of the nation-wide physician shortage.

In December, The Ohio State University College of Nursing in Columbus announced plans to open its first nurse practitioner-led health clinic in January 2013, signaling the growing role of nurses in healthcare.

4. Affiliating with medical schools

Hospitals have also announced new affiliations with medical schools, based on the idea that physicians are more likely to practice in the area where they received their training.

In October, South Jersey Healthcare in Vineland, N.J., became a major clinical affiliate of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford.

United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia, N.Y., announced it will affiliate with and become a teaching hospital for the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2013.

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