Editor's note: Downloadable video sound bites of Dr. Mark Higdon, Dr. Christopher Snyder, Dr. Kelley Lawrence , Dr. Cody Homistek, Dr. Ariel Talts and Dr. Eugene Wang speaking to this topic are available for media. Download additional b-roll here.
The United States faces a critical need in providers over the next decade with a shortage of as many as 90,000 physicians by 2025, according to a report by the Association of American Medical Colleges. Total physician demand is projected to grow by 86,700 to 133,200 (11-17%) between 2013 and 2025. Population growth and aging will account for 112,100 (14%) in growth, according to the report.
Nationwide, shortfalls in primary care will range between 12,500 and 31,100 physicians by 2025.
Projections for North Carolina are equally alarming. By 2030, the Tar Heel state will need 1,885 additional primary care doctors, according to another report by a Washington think tank. A Kaiser Family Foundation analysis found that less than 50 percent of the state’s population had their medical needs met by a primary care medical professional in 2014.
The problem is compounded by an aging population with 10,000 baby boomers entering Medicare every day and the current family medicine doctors also aging out of practice. The need for more primary care providers will be great.
Novant Health is doing its part to stem this shortfall in primary care providers who serve on the front lines of keeping our communities well.
“We believe that primary care is essential. Primary care first,” said Dr. Mark Higdon, a family physician and program director at the Novant Health Family Medicine Residency Program. “You know that notion that you have that family doctor that you follow. Continuity of care really matters and that’s what we want to deliver to patients.”
To meet these needs, Novant Health has developed its first family residency program. Beginning in July 2016, the first class of resident physicians begins its three year extensive training in family medicine at the Novant Health Family Medicine Residency Clinic in Cornelius, North Carolina. The class of four female and two male providers will complete the training with rotations in community clinics as well as at Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center, Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center and Novant Health Hemby Children’s Hospital.
“We’ve been working hand in hand with many different departments and their physicians to put together great rotations for our residents, said Dr. Kelley Lawrence, a family medicine provider and associate program director at the residency program. “Everything from dermatology outpatient, radiology to emergency medicine, obstetrics, internal medicine, pediatrics, NICU, psychiatry and many more.”
The Novant Health residency program team created the patient-centered curriculum to develop practitioners who are committed to providing comprehensive and compassionate care for all members of the family.
Higdon said he believes our health care system in America today is too fragmented and relies too much on specialized medical care. “Where we are in the United States today with burgeoning health care costs and high deductibles for most families,” he said. “We want to be able to provide health care that is high quality, high value and it addresses a patient at the point of care with the problems that they have: diabetes, cardiovascular disease. Those are things that are best managed by a family physician.”
A Canadian study found that about half of family medicine residents stayed in the region where they did their residency program. The health system hopes this will be true of participants in its program.
After the three year rotations, they hope to fill Novant Health positions with physician leaders well trained in value-based care who understand and embody the Novant Health culture.
“We’re training some of our future physicians. You can think of it as a three year interview,” Higdon said. “I believe that when we recruit them they’ll want to join our organization. Through their training, the residents will know on our electronic record. They will know our mission, vision and values.”
The Novant Health Family Medicine Residency Clinic has been several years in the making. In early 2014, Novant Health’s President and CEO Carl Armato signed an official statement of commitment letter. Novant Health has been working to expand its capabilities into the world of formal graduate medical education training.
The health system received a notice if accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education in October 2015. The following month, it was granted accreditation from the American Osteopathic Association. The dual accreditation means the new residency clinic can train family medicine residents who have graduated from MD and DO medical schools.
The residency program hopes to recruit six additional physicians for graduate medical training next year and six more providers for the following year.