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Primary Care Workforce Projections

We study the national-level supply and demand projections for primary service providers. That includes family, general internal, geriatric, and pediatric physicians. It also includes nurse practitioners and physician assistants in primary care.

What do we study about the primary care workforce?

  • The current number of primary care providers in the U.S.
  • The projected number of family, general internal, geriatric, and pediatric physicians as well as nurse practitioners and physician assistants in primary care
  • Current use of primary care services
  • The projected changes in demand

How do we determine future supply and demand?

We apply current patterns of health care use and delivery to future population demographics.

What are our key findings?

In 2018, we estimate that there were:

  • Approximately 256,220 full-time equivalent (FTE) primary care physicians. This number includes:
    • 105,400 FTE family physicians (projected demand was 113,840)
    • 81,760 FTE general internal physicians (projected demand was 90,180)
    • 8,220 FTE geriatric physicians (same as projected demand)
    • 60,840 FTE pediatric physicians (same as projected demand)
  • 64,490 FTE nurse practitioners and 33,400 FTE physician assistants in primary care (both same as projected demand)

By 2030, we project these changes in the supply of and demand for primary care service providers:

  • Family physicians – 6% increase in supply, 13% increase in demand
  • General internal physicians – 13% increase in supply, 22% increase in demand
  • Geriatric physicians – 8% decrease in supply, 50% increase in demand
  • Pediatric physicians – 2% increase in supply, 5% increase in demand
  • Nurse practitioners in primary care – 107% increase in supply, 16% increase in demand
  • Physician assistants in primary care – 42% increase in supply, 15% increase in demand

Supply of and demand for primary care providers varies across states and regions

  • In 2018 for family physicians, the adequacy of supply to meet demand (supply divided by demand) by state ranges from 45% to 208%.
  • By 2030 for family physicians, the adequacy of future supply (future supply divided by future demand) by state will range from 46% to 178%.

Supply of and demand for primary care providers also varies by how rural the area is. 

  • By 2030 for general internal physicians in non-metropolitan areas, there will be an 8% decrease in supply and a 9% increase in demand from 2018.
  • For general internal physicians in metropolitan areas in 2030, there will be a 14% increase in supply and a 23% increase in demand from 2018.

How to contact us

Email us.

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