CLEVELAND -- If you've ever waited months to get in to see your primary care doctor you are not alone.
"The lack of primary care physicians is part of what is driving healthcare costs right now, because you can't get into see your primary care doctor, so, you wait and wait until a disease is advanced and then you need more expensive tertiary care," said first-year-medical student Elizabeth Looney.
Looney is a member of an inaugural program aimed at combating this problem. NorthEast Ohio Medical University and Cleveland State University have recognized the need and are taking a proactive approach.
It's called the Partnership for Urban Health. The program has many goals but the bottom line is to recruit students who want to stay in the area to provide baseline cradle-to-grave care.
"Our plan is for them to get their education in these communities, become engaged in these communities, and want to come back to these communities after their residency and their training and provide care in these communities," said professor and primary care physician Janice Spalding.
Increased access to care, through the Affordable Healthcare Act, means that more and more people will start calling on these types of doctors. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians the shortage, as things stand now, by the year 2020, American will have 39-thousand fewer family doctors than will be needed to care for the population.
One part of the problem is pay. Both Spaulding and Looney say that family doctors make a good living. The AAFP estimates it's about $135,000 less annually than a doctor in a sub-specialty.
One of the goals of the Urban Health Partnership is to help find grants, scholarships and other resources to offset costs.
Dr. Spaulding hopes the Affordable Care Act will help as well. In addition to paying for school there will be mentoring opportunities. NEOMED plans to start at the middle school level to find students who show an interest in the field of medicine.