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Report: Growth In Two NC Regions May Bring A Doctor Shortage

Doctors at Duke Hospital.
Duke Medecine

According to new report on the website, Raleigh and Greensboro are among the top cities in the country facing a physician shortage. The data compares populations based on U.S. Census Data with the number of registered primary care doctors.

Erin Freher is head of the development team at the Sheps Center's Program on Workforce Research and Policy at U-N-C Chapel Hill.  She cautions not to put too much stock into the shortage numbers.  Freher claims they're too simplistic because they combine all specialties - and fail to ask important questions like where people live and what services they actually need...

"North Carolina continues to grow faster than other states. But we have a great system," she says.  "We have good training programs. So we need to be focusing on how do we train more physicians in rural communities; how do we keep more physicians in general internal medicine; how do we keep more general pediatricians in general pediatrics instead of specializing. Those would be the questions I would ask."

Freher says it's also tempting to try to decipher how the Affordable Care Act --  referred to by many as 'Obamacare' -- plays into shortage numbers.  She says don't get caught up in that.

"In fact, that's not an issue according to our model. The real issue is our growing population in North Carolina; the aging population; the population that has an increased incidence of chronic disease, hypertension, diabetes, etc. that's really going to drive demand," Freher says.

Freher says her research shows shortages in the areas of Preventive Care and Circulatory visits.

Fed up with the frigid winters of her native state, Catherine was lured to North Carolina in 2006. She grew up in Wisconsin where she spent much of her time making music and telling stories. Prior to joining WUNC, Catherine hosted All Things Considered and classical music at Wisconsin Public Radio. She got her start hosting late-nights and producing current events talk shows for the station's Ideas Network. She later became a fill-in talk show host and recorded books for WPR's popular daily program, Chapter A Day.
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