SEATTLE, Wash. - One of the many questions being asked in the wake of Congress passing sweeping health care reform is whether there will be enough primary care physicians to handle the influx of newly-insured patients.
West Seattle Family Medicine Nurse Practioner Marty Couret has been working in the field for nine years. With the exception of a few things, Couret can do just about everything a primary doctor can. Some say with the passing of health care reform, we may be seeing more like him handling the influx of newly insured patients.
"I think that what we'll see is that we're going to see more of a flourishing of practitioner and physician assistants in health care. I they're a necessity. I think they're going to do a great job in providing primary care like they have been for 30 years," says Couret.
University of Washington Vice-Chair of Family Medicine Roger Rosenblatt believes nurse practitioners may become more in demand, but the shortage of primary medicine doctors may be taking a turn. Just this year, UW saw an increase in primary care students. The number went from 11 percent in 2007 to nearly 16 percent in 2009.
"And that's just with the promise of health reform," says Rosenblatt. "After what happened yesterday, we are going to see a dramatic increase."
Medical student Brett Toresdahl decided last year to switch to primary medicine.
"It is very exciting. I think this is certainly a big step in addressing something that's a big part of our community and country," said Toresdahl.
The doctor in training believes, at the end of the day, there will be less red tape and more of a focus on helping patients. It's what Dr. Jeff Brittin says he got in the profession for.
"I may be able to see more patients that have some kind of health insurance. They can get in to see me. They have more access. I mean they're sick. They need it," said Brittin.