California will likely face a statewide shortfall of clinicians in the next 15 years. Some regions may face greater shortages than others because providers are not evenly distributed across all regions of the state. Using standard forecasting techniques, the authors forecast the supply of primary care clinicians (MDs, NPs, and PAs) through 2030 in California and for five regions: the Greater Bay Area; the Sacramento, Sierra, and Northern Counties; the Central Valley and Central Coast; the Los Angeles, Orange, and Inland Empire; and the Southern Border. Demand for primary care was projected using four distinct benchmarks to provide a range of plausible demand estimates. In 2030, California is projected to have 78,000 to 103,000 primary care clinicians (approximately 34,000 to 46,000 full time equivalent clinicians (FTEs). By 2030, NPs and PAs will comprise nearly half of California's primary care clinicians. Californians are projected to demand 12%-17% more primary care clinician FTEs by 2030. Mid-range forecasts indicate that California will have shortages of primary care clinicians in 2025 and 2030 and would need approximately 4,700 additional primary care clinicians in 2025 and approximately 4,100 additional primary care clinicians in 2030 to meet demand. High range forecasts suggest that California could have a small surplus of primary care clinicians in 2030; however, this seems unlikely because training programs would likely heed market signals and reduce the number of trainees and because trainees may elect to pursue opportunities in specialty care instead of primary care. The Central Valley and Central Coast region and the Southern Border region are projected to have the worst shortages. California needs to closely monitor the supply of primary care clinicians and to develop strategies to fill potential gaps between supply and demand that may arise as soon as 2025.
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