There is a primary care physician shortage in this country?
You could not prove it by me. If there were really a shortage, it seems to me that there would be a ready educational pathway in place to reintroduce qualified reentering primary care physicians to the workforce. That such a mechanism does not currently exist in the world of medicine is the entire reason for this blog's birth. We reentry physicians are entirely on our own, while many in the media shed ineffectual tears over a physician shortage. Even the AMA has been taken to task for doing this.
At this point, I need—I am estimating—about 4 months of refreshing/mentoring in general internal medicine to be able to return to that specialty full-time. I have already been through residency training. I already have a license to practice. As of next year, I anticipate being re-board-certified after I take the maintenance of certification examination in May. I live in a medically-underserved community and would like to stay there and contribute. I suspect there are other primary care doctors in this same situation in many parts of the country: we want to come back and serve, but there is no way home for us. Even if we do find a willing physician mentor to assist us in our reentry, we next find out we cannot get malpractice insurance or hospital credentials. Effectively, our way back to medical practice is barred by fear of liability and institutional mistrust.
It would be way cheaper and quicker to refresh a seasoned primary care doctor like me than it would be to add primary care residency slots. Additionally, there is no guarantee that those "primary care" residents will not go on to sub-specialize subsequently—which does not help the shortage in primary care whatsoever. Such is the situation that exists right now in residency training, in fact.
I suggest that at least part of the current primary care physician shortage is caused by the hidebound—not to say patriarchal and outdated—nature of the medical education/credentialing establishment in this country, which writes off experienced MDs entirely after 2 years of clinical inactivity for any reason—God forbid one might want to explore another career or parent a child or take care of an ailing parent—and then seems quite loathe to take them back. Given the primary care shortage, can the medical establishment continue to disown those Gen-X and Millennial physicians who have dared to temporarily step off its ironbound path?