The country's shortage of primary care physicians, an issue that has gotten quite a bit of coverage over the last few years, is the topic of a new three-part NPR series. The first segment, which aired today, featured a Maine doctor who runs a solo practice. Despite the lower salaries associated with primary care, Cathy Crute, MD, sounds quite happy with her chosen profession:
But what really keeps Crute up at night is what will happen to her practice - and her patients - when she retires. She's 63, and she says she plans to work for only about three more years.
So she's spending some of her time trying to recruit her replacement... "It's probably going to have to be someone who doesn't have a huge debt," she says.
That doesn't leave a very large pool of young doctors finishing their medical training.
The rest of the series will identify other pressures on the primary care system - and some potential solutions.