Scale, causes, and implications of the primary care nursing shortage

Annu Rev Public Health. 2014:35:443-57. doi: 10.1146/annurev-publhealth-032013-182508. Epub 2014 Jan 9.


As the demand for health care consistently rises and many individuals, even within developed countries, lack access to primary care services, a better understanding of how primary care is defined, the main causes of the primary care shortage both within the United States and across the globe, and key solutions to these issues are paramount. Upon review of the US and international primary care literature, the authors first briefly discuss the fluidity of how primary care is defined and how it is applied in nations with differing levels of health care infrastructure. The main causes of the deficit both domestically and globally are then examined. Finally, upon careful review of the research produced within the past seven years, this article suggests strategies that maximize the primary care workforce: the effective use of technology, task shifting, interprofessional teams, and more consistent primary care data to build workforce strategies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Global Health*
  • Health Policy
  • Health Workforce / organization & administration*
  • Health Workforce / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Nurse's Role
  • Patient Care Team
  • Primary Care Nursing*
  • United States