AACOM Scholar-in-Residence Speaks at Primary Care Workforce Capitol Hill Briefing

Alissa Craft, DO, MBA, Associate Professor and Vice Chair of Pediatrics, Western University of Health Sciences/College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific – Northwest Campus, and current AACOM Scholar-in-Residence, recently spoke at a Partnership for Primary Care Workforce (PPCW) Capitol Hill briefing (at left). The briefing, “Where Are We Today and Where Do We Need to Go?” was open to Members of Congress and their staff, and drew attention to the importance of investing in primary care to rein in health care costs and improve U.S. health outcomes.

With the deficit reduction process threatening to cut funding for many programs essential to ensuring a well-trained primary care workforce to meet future demands, PPCW is committed to working with Members of Congress and Administration officials to reach shared goals. The briefing focused on raising awareness within Congress of the importance of the following primary care workforce programs: the National Health Service Corps Scholarship and Loan Repayment programs; health professions programs authorized in the Title VII of the Public Health Service Act (Title VII); Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education program; and Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program. In addition to these programs, the briefing encouraged continued support of Medicare graduate medical education funding, as well as broad payment changes to help promote primary care.

The briefing featured presentations by Dr. Craft; Robert B. Baron, MD, MS, Professor of Medicine, Vice Chief, Division of General Internal Medicineand Associate Dean for Graduate and Continuing Medical Education, University of California San Francisco (far left); and Joseph W. Gravel, Jr., MD, Immediate Past President, Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors, Program Director, Lawrence Family Medicine Residency, and President-elect, Massachusetts Academy of Family Physicians (at left).

During her presentation, Dr. Craft provided an overview of primary care, including the types of primary care physicians, the population concentrations of primary care physicians around the country, benefits, and why primary care is vital to the health care system. She explained that primary care practitioners typically earn 55 percent less than physicians practicing in other specialties, such as radiology or orthopedic surgery, and provided examples of programs that encourage physicians to enter the primary care workforce, including the National Health Service Corps, Title VII Programs, Children’s Hospital Graduate Medical Education Programs and Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Programs, all programs for which the PPCW supports continued funding.

Dr. Craft then spoke about the osteopathic medical profession and the rapid growth of undergraduate and graduate osteopathic medical education programs. She described, as an example, Western University of Health Sciences/College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific’s new teaching site – COMP-Northwest, in Lebanon, Oregon. The school is in Linn County, a partial Primary Care Health Professional Shortage Area. The school hopes to train physicians who will serve in the area surrounding the school, as well as in other medically underserved regions.

The PPCW is a non-partisan, nationwide effort by key professional, provider, and educational organizations to strengthen and improve the nation’s primary care workforce. Associations that are active in the PPCW include the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, the American Osteopathic Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the National Association of Community Health Centers, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians, the American College of Physicians, the National Area Health Education Center Organization, the National Rural Health Association, and others.

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November 2011
Vol. 5, No. 11