States continue to place clinicians where they are in short supply, despite recession

November 13, 2013 by Donna Parker

(Medical Xpress)—Despite the recent recession, states increased the overall number of loan repayment programs designed to recruit health care professionals to live and practice in underserved communities, according to research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"This is good news for our country's and people's access to care," said Donald Pathman, a physician and professor of family medicine who led the study. "The study shows that states recognized the importance of loan repayment and other incentives and were willing to create more programs even during the early, toughest years of the recent recession when states' budgets were stretched thin."

The work, published as a research letter in the Nov. 13 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, not only highlights states' activities in placing clinicians where they are needed most, but also comes at a time when the Affordable Care Act puts a focus on and preventative care.

The most popular of these incentive programs offer young physicians, dentists, and other the opportunity to have their student loans repaid while serving in communities with limited access to care. These loan repayment programs from states help practitioners pay off their debt and simultaneously help states' neediest communities attract clinicians.

Pathman and his colleagues at UNC's Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research and School of Medicine took inventory of all incentive programs offered by states from 2007-2010. They found that in 2010, there were 93 programs for health professionals of all types across the United States – an increase from 87 programs in 2007. During the study period, 47 states offered at least one for clinicians, compared to 37 in 1996, the last time an official tally of these programs had been made.

One quarter of programs in 2010 were sponsored jointly by states and the National Health Service Corps, which offers its own, entirely federally supported loan repayment program which also increased in size during the recession to help assure access for the many unemployed who lost health insurance.

As of 2010, a total of 3,325 clinicians were serving in these state programs across the nation. Of these clinicians, 1,395 were primary care clinicians (physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and midwives) who were serving in solely state-funded loan repayment and direct incentive programs – double the number from 1996.

The with the highest clinician counts serving in these programs include California (488), Texas (267), North Carolina (235), Wyoming (214) and New Mexico (153).

"Research tells us that an important way to improve health, lower costs and increase people's satisfaction with their care is through a relationship with a primary care provider," said Pathman. "States are doing a lot of the heavy lifting in attracting clinicians into these rural and underserved areas– and that's what many areas need if people are going to get quality care."

Explore further: Nurse practitioners provide more primary care in states with least restrictive regulations

Related Stories

Nurse practitioners provide more primary care in states with least restrictive regulations

July 8, 2013
Facing a nationwide shortage of primary care physicians, some states in recent years have eased up on regulations that create barriers for nurse practitioners who want to work as primary care providers.

California's new mental health system helps people live independently

October 2, 2013
A new analysis by Oregon State University researchers of California's mental health system finds that comprehensive, community-based mental health programs are helping people with serious mental illness transition to independent ...

Physician shortage could be cut by new primary care models, study finds

November 4, 2013
Much of the shortage of primary care physicians expected over the next decade could be eliminated if the nation increases use of new models of medical care that expand the role of nurse practitioners and physician assistants, ...

Race a bigger health care barrier than insurance status

November 8, 2013
Race appears to be a larger factor in disparities in health care use than whether or not a person has health insurance, finds a new study in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved. Blacks, Hispanics, and ...

Expanding scope of nurse practitioners practice discussed

October 3, 2013
(HealthDay)—Non-physician practitioners could ease the anticipated increased demand for physicians, but broadening their scope of practice is controversial, according to an article published Sept. 10 in Medical Economics.

Title V coverage varies across states for diabetes

May 10, 2013
(HealthDay)—There is significant state by state variation in Title V medical coverage for children with diabetes, according to a study published in the April issue of The Journal of Pediatrics.

Recommended for you

Exercise can make cells healthier, promoting longer life, study finds

September 22, 2017
Whether it's running, walking, cycling, swimming or rowing, it's been well-known since ancient times that doing some form of aerobic exercise is essential to good health and well-being. You can lose weight, sleep better, ...

Breathing dirty air may harm kidneys, study finds

September 21, 2017
Outdoor air pollution has long been linked to major health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A new study now adds kidney disease to the list, according to ...

Excess dietary manganese promotes staph heart infection

September 21, 2017
Too much dietary manganese—an essential trace mineral found in leafy green vegetables, fruits and nuts—promotes infection of the heart by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus ("staph").

Being active saves lives whether a gym workout, walking to work or washing the floor

September 21, 2017
Physical activity of any kind can prevent heart disease and death, says a large international study involving more than 130,000 people from 17 countries published this week in The Lancet.

Frequent blood donations safe for some, but not all

September 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—Some people may safely donate blood as often as every eight weeks—but that may not be a healthy choice for all, a new study suggests.

Higher manganese levels in children correlate with lower IQ scores, study finds

September 21, 2017
A study led by environmental health researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine finds that children in East Liverpool, Ohio with higher levels of Manganese (Mn) had lower IQ scores. The research appears ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.