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Primary Care and PT: Lesson from the Military

If you keep up with the news, you may have seen headlines like these: "Doctor shortage may reach 120,000 by 2030," "How can we remedy the shortage of health care providers?" and "US faces looming shortage of primary care physicians."

Given the importance of primary care, this isn't good news. To address this shortage, medical schools have increased enrollment, hoping to graduate more primary care physicians. But there are other ways to meet the demand for primary care than just producing more medical doctors, as the US military can teach us.

Several times in its history, the US military has experienced critical shortages of physicians. As a result, after the Vietnam War the military had to develop models of health care that can be an example for a civilian practice environment facing the same problem.

Surely if these approaches—validated through reviews of military medicine by organizations such as The Joint Commission and the National Committee for Quality Assurance—are successful for our men and women in the military, they should be considered seriously as options to improve the supply of civilian primary care providers!

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