Task Force for Primary Care Provider Workforce Development Takes Action on Primary Care Provider Shortage

  • 11 Dec 2023

The primary care provider shortage has been receiving much attention nationally and locally recently. The crisis is not looming--it’s here. Wait times to establish care with a primary care provider are months long. The CTC-RI Primary Care Workforce Task Force has taken steps to address the provider workforce shortage head on. Task Force members include the heads of the physician, nurse practitioner and physician assistant training programs from RI colleges, universities and health systems. This group is led by Jeffrey Borkan, MD, PhD, Assistant Dean for Primary Care and Population Medicine at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, and Denise Coppa, PhD, CNP, FAAN, FAANP, Program Director, Family NP Program at University of Rhode Island, and has been meeting since April to develop strategies to combat the provider crisis. 

The Task Force has developed a Strategic Roadmap that lays out six goals to address the major issues contributing to the primary care provider shortage:

  1. Reform payments and incentives to primary care providers to create regional parity.
  2. Establish baseline data and targets for primary care workforce using existing and to-be-developed data sources for ongoing monitoring.
  3. Increase the recruitment of medical students, residents/fellows, as well as nurse practitioners (NP) and physician assistants (PA) trainees entering primary care. Reduce tuition and student debt for providers entering primary care in RI.
  4. Expand primary care provider workforce diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
  5. Increase the funding for training primary care providers and the number of high-quality primary care training sites. 
  6. Enhance onsite clinical training in advanced patient-centered medical home (PCMH) principles such as team-based care, integrated behavioral health, practice transformation, and payment reform.

The plan includes recommended objective and action steps that stakeholders in Rhode Island should take to improve the provider workforce and increase access to primary care. The plan is expected to be released to the public soon. In the meantime, the Task Force has proactively developed two legislative proposals for consideration in the upcoming legislative session. One proposal is for state funding for full academic scholarships for medical students, nurse practitioners, and physician assistant students who commit to practicing primary care in Rhode Island after graduation and residency. The second proposal is for state funding to support clinics and their providers who provide on-site training to medical residents, nurse practitioners, and physician assistant students, and development of a standardized curriculum to elevate clinical training to the standards of PCMH and advanced primary care practice. 

Senator Pamela Lauria and Representative Kathleen Fogarty are supporting both proposals. The primary care provider shortage is personal for the Senator.  “As a primary care provider, I witness the unfolding crisis in access to primary care daily. As a legislator, I will advocate for the policies needed to safeguard and improve that access,” Senator Lauria told CTC-RI.  The goal is for the plans to receive bipartisan support. 

The Primary Care Workforce Task Force meets on the second Wednesday month lyat 8:00 a.m.  All who have an interest in supporting the primary care workforce and improving access to care for Rhode Islanders are welcome to attend. Please contact Yolanda Bowes, Task Force Program Manager (ybowes@ctc-ri.org) for more information.