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Implications of an Aging Primary Care Physician Workforce in Kansas (April 2020)

This issue brief is the second of a two-part series examining the primary care workforce in Kansas.

By Hina B. Shah, M.P.H., Sydney McClendon, Madison Hoover, M.S. | April 07, 2020

Implications of an Aging Primary Care Physician Workforce in Kansas (April 2020)

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Kansas has a shortage of primary care physicians, many of whom are nearing retirement age. This has serious implications for an aging population. As physicians retire, will there be enough new physicians to replace them, especially in rural areas of the state? What can Kansas policymakers do to address the primary care physician shortage? Learn more in our new issue brief, the second in a two-part series examining the primary care workforce in Kansas.

Key points from the brief include:

  • The geographic distribution of primary care physicians (PCP) varies widely across the state. Generally, the southeast and southwest regions of Kansas have fewer PCPs available to serve the population.
  • Aging of the physician workforce could further intensify the primary care workforce shortage as nearly 4 in 10 (39.2 percent) PCPs in Kansas are over the age of 55. Nearly half (45.2 percent) of PCPs practicing in southwest Kansas are age 55 and older, as are 42.5 percent of those practicing in southeast Kansas.
  • The PCP shortage has serious implications for an aging population — by 2039, nearly one-quarter (22.5 percent) of Kansans will be age 65 or older, and likely will have increasing medical needs.
  • A multi-pronged approach to train, recruit and retain PCPs in Kansas is necessary to maintain and improve access to care across the state.

The Kansas Health Institute supports effective policymaking through nonpartisan research, education and engagement. KHI believes evidence-based information, objective analysis and civil dialogue enable policy leaders to be champions for a healthier Kansas. Established in 1995 with a multiyear grant from the Kansas Health Foundation, KHI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization based in Topeka.