Hans Glick
Hans Glick campaign leader

Dr. John Okrent on the Importance of Primary Care

Dr. John Okrent, a recent graduate of the University of Buffalo, learns an important lesson about compassionate care while volunteering with Jericho Road Family Practice. (3 min, 16 sec)

Are family physicians a dying breed? In a 2009 article for CNNMoney.com (http://money.cnn.com/2009/07/16/news/economy/healthcare_doctors_shortage/index.htm), writer Parija B. Kavilanz cites a study by the American Academy of Family Physicians showing an enormous drop in medical students who choose to go into primary care. Kavilanz quotes AAFP President Dr. Ted Epperly as saying, "On the eve of (health care) reform, we have a very real primary care crisis."

And just how dire is this crisis? According to KaiserEdu.org (http://www.kaiseredu.org/Issue-Modules/Primary-Care-Shortage/Background-Brief.aspx) "Although 56% of patient visits in America are primary care, only 37% of physicians practice primary care medicine, and only 8% of the nation's medical school graduates go into family medicine. People who are uninsured, low-income, members of racial and ethnic minority groups, or living in rural or inner-city areas are disproportionately likely to lack a usual source of care."

Like any medical student, John Okrent had to make his own decision about whether or not to go into primary care. Listen as he describes how his experiences volunteering at Jericho Road Family Practice helped convince him that the compassionate, empowering patient-doctor relationships primary care physicians can provide are integral to quality healthcare.

We'd like to hear from doctors and medical students who made the decision to pursue primary care. And we'd like to know what incentives or disincentives you were given as you considered becoming a family physician.

Share your story in the comments section below, or by emailing us at [email protected]. Your stories help strengthen the case for primary care in this country, even as our healthcare industry in its present form diverts more and more young medical talent toward more lucrative specialties.

Music Credit: "Domes -- Nikako... (Instrumental)" (domes) / CC BY-SA 3.0


Eighth in an ongoing series of stories about everyday people and their personal struggles with finding the healthcare they need. Come back each week to listen to more stories, share your own, and participate in the petitions, pledges and other actions we'll be posting in the weeks and months to come.

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