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A How-To Guide written by Mark Cruise of Free Clinic Solutions

In 2011, AmeriCares conducted a needs assessment of over 400 safety-net health clinics across the United States. The leading resource constraint among clinics was human resources—medical and nonmedical staff and volunteers. Clinics ranked primary care physicians as the most critical need (25%) followed by nursing staff (14%) and specialists (14%).

Changes in the practice and business of medicine, combined with the potential impact of health care reform and major expansion of coverage, have resulted in shifts in attitudes and behavior that will affect provider volunteerism in free and charitable clinics for years to come.   Exacerbating these changes are the increasing prevalence of chronic disease and the current economic climate.  As a result, it is more important than ever for free and charitable clinics to grow and strengthen their primary care provider workforce.  

The Building a Primary Care Provider Workforce guide available here is intended for free and charitable clinics that are looking to build and strengthen their provider workforce.  The guide describes methods and strategies for recruiting and retaining primary care physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants in a charitable setting. 

Topics covered include:

  • Effective methods in recruiting medical providers
  • Medical malpractice concerns
  • Credentialing and privileging
  • Additional avenues for building a primary care provider workforce
  • Maintaining a strong volunteer provider workforce
  • Paid providers in free clinics
    • Considerations when hiring a paid provider
    • Options for recruiting a paid provider
    • Paid/volunteer provider balance
  • Strategies for appreciating volunteer providers

Two versions of the guide are available: a shorter version, comprised of brief, concise bulleted sections addressing the topics listed above, and a narrative version, which provides additional background and language.