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Consortium Seeks Residency Programs for Underserved Areas

Like other states across the country, Oregon faces a critical primary care physician shortage. A recent study estimates the need for an additional 1,726 physicians (all specialties), 332 nurse practitioners, and 168 physician assistants in Oregon.  

To address this need, hospitals, health systems, physician groups and both Oregon medical schools have come together to form the Oregon Graduate Medical Education Consortium.  

Nancy Bell, Samaritan Health Services VP of Academic Affairs and administrative director of Medical Education for Samaritan’s Graduate Medical Education program, will serve on the board of directors of new state-wide Graduate Medical Education Consortium, and has been appointed co-chair of the statewide graduate medical education expansion workgroup. Consortium members agree that urgent steps must be taken to ensure rural Oregonians, as well as those from underserved communities, have access to doctors when they need them. 

“When physicians complete their residencies in rural locations, it is more likely they will stay and establish practices in those communities,” said Cathryn Cushing, Executive Director for the Oregon GME Consortium.  “Unfortunately, in 2011, Oregon had only 8.4 primary care residents per 100,000 population, ranking the state 40th in the nation. This is why the Oregon Graduate Medical Education Consortium will focus on establishing new or expanding existing residency programs to address the coming physician shortage, “  

To meet the demand for primary care due to a growing and aging population and those newly insured under the Affordable Care Act, a 38 percent increase in the primary care physician workforce is needed in Oregon by 2030. 

“Increasing the number of primary care providers is important for the health of Oregonians, especially those in rural areas,” Cushing said. “Primary care physicians improve outcomes for patients and patient care while lowering cost. The Oregon GME Consortium will help Oregon achieve this winning strategy.” 

Through the Consortium, new primary care residency programs in many areas of the state will be created. These programs will allow medical school graduates to remain in Oregon to complete their residency training. The consortium model is relatively new. Georgia has developed a GME consortium, and a similar project is currently underway in Indiana. 

For more information about the Oregon GME Consortium, contact Cathryn Cushing at 503-804-9171 or