Trenton, NJ - Primary care residents and physicians are leaving New Jersey at a staggering rate. While states like California and Florida retain over 60 percent of their primary care residents, research completed by the New Jersey Council of Teaching Hospitals shows that more than 60 percent of the state’s medical residents leave New Jersey, taking with them millions of graduate medical education dollars invested by the state.
In an effort to improve the quality of health care for New Jerseyans and raise awareness of the issues facing newly trained primary care physicians, the New Jersey Academy of Family Physicians (NJAFP) and the New Jersey Chapter of the American College of Physicians (ACP-NJ) have launched KeepNJDocs.org.
Designed to share real stories of New Jersey medical residents and advocate for solutions, the website offers a number of tactics New Jersey can implement to ensure a strong primary care physician workforce able to treat the state’s approximately 9 million patients.
“Value-based care starts with primary care physicians. But in New Jersey’s practice environment, it’s a challenging place to stay and practice, especially when medical school students graduate with an average medical school debt of $190,000,” said Peter Carrazzone, MD, FAAFP, chairman of the Board of Trustees for NJAFP and managing partner at Vanguard Medical Group.
Consistently identified as a challenging state to practice medicine, New Jersey is a notoriously unfriendly place for primary care due to the significant number of administrative burdens placed on physicians, low compensation for the primary care specialty, an emphasis on higher cost specialty care, massive medical school debt incurred while studying and ineffective loan redemption programs.
Solutions offered by KeepNJDocs.org include:
Establishing a minimum primary care spend for state and commercial insurers to ensure health care dollars are invested in primary care services.
Implementing medical school admissions and tuition incentives, such as a primary care admissions track at state-funded medical schools and tuition remission programs.
Offering alternative medical school financing, such as a state loan refinancing program or zero/low-interest loan programs for home-grown primary care medical students attending in-state medical schools or training at in-state primary care medical residency programs.
Overhauling the Primary Care Practitioner Loan Redemption Program of New Jersey (NJLRP) with a focus on retention and establishing functional application criteria for hiring sites and applicants that will encourage primary care physicians to be hired in private medical practices in underserved communities.
Legislation that would clarifying parameters of Direct Primary Care, allowing patients to take advantage of fee-for-service alternative that provides a solution to high-deductible plan obligations.
“Research shows that when 20 percent primary care physicians are added, mortality decreases while the opposite occurs with an increase of specialists,” added Dr. Carrazzone. “Our hope is that KeepNJDocs.org will challenge the status quo in New Jersey and empower the state to invest in and promote primary care – ultimately leading to improved outcomes, higher quality care and lower costs.”
To learn more about what New Jersey can do to keep primary care physicians in state, visit KeepNJDocs.org.