Unhappy primary care doctors could be bad news for Idaho

Many classmates of Dr. Chip Roser ended their medical training ready to practice a specialty. They morphed into neurologists, cardiologists, pathologists, dermatologists or other "-gists."

Despite advice to the contrary, Roser chose the path of family medicine, with potentially lower pay and longer hours. And he doesn't regret it.

But in a recent national survey, almost half of family practice doctors said they would get out if they could.

That is potentially devastating news for Idaho, which already has fewer doctors per capita than any other state. Specific state-by-state data was not available.

For patients, fewer primary- care doctors like Roser can mean waiting longer to get in to see internists or family doctors, or even trouble finding a doctor who will see them at all.

And the problem of finding available doctors is not confined to rural Idaho.

"The other day, I saw a patient who told me she called around 20 physicians before she found someone who was willing to take a new patient," said Roser, 45, who practices in Boise.

"And it is going to get worse," he added.

Others agreed.

"We've been talking about (doctor shortages) for the past 20 years, and it has reached a real crisis point now," said Dr. Michael Patmas, executive director of Saint Alphonsus Medical Group.

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