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State sees marked increase in applications for primary care residency program funding



October 16, 2017
Area(s) of Interest: Physician Workforce Professional Development & Education 

The California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development received a record number of applications for family medicine and primary care residency funding through the Song Brown Healthcare Workforce Training Program. For the 2017 application cycle, 77 applications were received, representing 103 residency slots.


The increase is due in part to additional physician workforce funding secured by the California Medical Association (CMA) through the state budget. In 2016, the California legislature passed a budget that committed $100 million over three years ($33 million each year) in health care workforce funding.


Although Governor Brown proposed to eliminate these funds in his 2017-2018 budget, CMA fought to maintain this important funding, which is critical as we work to address California’s primary care physician shortage.


This funding is available for existing primary care residency slots, existing Teaching Health Center slots, expansion slots within existing programs, and new primary care programs that will obtain accreditation within a year of the contract period. 


The 77 applications received for primary care residency funding include:


  • 48 family medicine residency programs (including 10 expansion slots and eight new programs)

  • 14 internal medicine residency programs (including three expansion slots)

  • 6 OB-GYN residency programs (including two new programs)

  • 9 pediatric residency programs (including one expansion slot)

  • A robust and well-trained primary care workforce is essential to meeting the health care demands of all Californians. Training more physicians to meet the growing demands of an aging population with multiple chronic conditions remains one of CMA’s top priorities. California is experiencing a severe shortage of primary care physicians, particularly in the rural and Central Valley regions of the state. Our state has one of the lowest primary care physician to patient ratios in the nation. Some estimates show that California will need an additional 8,243 primary care physicians by 2030 – a 32 percent increase.


    Data shows that most physicians set down roots in the areas where they train and remain there after their training to care for their communities.  


    Inadequate funding for residency programs exacerbates access problems—every year, hundreds of graduating medical students don't find a residency slot in California to continue their training, forcing talented young doctors who want to stay and practice in California to other states and communities.

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