Research Alert: June 24, 2020

Supply and Distribution of the Primary Care Workforce in Rural America: 2019

This study examines the 2019 supply and geographic distribution of primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants across rural areas of the U.S. We used 2019 primary care provider data from National Plan and Provider Enumeration System linked to county-level Urban Influence Codes and 2019 Claritas population data to calculate provider-to-population ratios for each provider type in all U.S. non-metropolitan counties. We compared supply between metropolitan, micropolitan, and non-core counties for each provider types. Findings are presented in a series of national maps, tables, and charts. (Individual state-level analyses are also available.)

Nationally, the provider-to-population ratio of family physicians is slightly higher in rural than urban areas, but the overall per capita supply of primary care providers remains substantially lower in rural areas than urban areas. About 5% of rural counties, mostly non-core counties, have no family physicians. Maldistribution of primary care providers continues to exacerbate primary care provider shortages in some rural areas, especially in more remote non-core counties.

For more information, view the state-by-state reports.

Contact Information:

Eric H. Larson, PhD
WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
Phone: 206.616.9601

Additional Resources of Interest: