Category Archives: Primary care

Apr 4 2014

RWJF Nurse Fellow Builds a Culture of Health Through the Community Health Center Movement

Linnea Windel, MSN, RN, president and CEO of VNA Health Care in Aurora, Ill., received the Illinois Primary Health Care Association’s Danny K. Davis Award last fall for her leadership of and service to the community health center movement. She is an alumna of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Executive Nurse Fellows program (2008-2011).


Human Capital Blog: Congratulations on your award!  What does this mean for you and for your organization’s work?

Linnea Windel: The community health center movement (and the work that we do) reaches thousands of uninsured and underinsured people who, in most cases, wouldn’t have access to primary health care services otherwise. The award highlights the purpose of our work and the work of many.

HCB: The award is named for Danny K. Davis, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and a champion of the community health center movement. How is VNA Health Care carrying out his mission?

Windel: When we became a federally qualified health center (FQHC) 12 years ago, we were serving 6,000 patients; this year we are on track to serve 60,000 patients. In the space of 12 years, we’ve expanded our service area and now have nine health centers in suburban Chicago. We live out the purpose of the community health center movement and the purpose of the award through the provision of care in communities with significant need.

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Apr 1 2014

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez Champions Nursing

Nurses are “the backbone of efforts” to expand New Mexico’s primary care workforce, according to Gov. Susana Martinez, and they help ensure that people living in the state’s rural and underserved communities can get the high quality care they need and deserve. A video from the governor helped open the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Academic Progression in Nursing meeting in Washington, D.C., this week, which brought together nurse leaders from around the country. In her remarks, Governor Martinez explains why New Mexico has implemented a common statewide nursing curriculum, made it easier for nurses in the state to further their education, and placed “a strong emphasis on nurses.” 

Opening RWJF's Academic Progression in Nursing meeting in March 2014, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez explains why nurses are the "backbone of efforts" to expand the state's primary care workforce.
Jan 28 2014

Sharing Nursing’s Knowledge: The January 2014 Issue

Have you signed up to receive Sharing Nursing’s Knowledge? The monthly Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) e-newsletter will keep you up to date on the work of the foundation’s nursing programs, and the latest news, research, and trends relating to academic progression, leadership, and other essential nursing issues. These are some of the stories in the January issue:

Patients Slowly Gaining Access to Care Provided by Advanced Practice Registered Nurses
In recent years, several states have taken steps to ease restrictions on advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), indicating that efforts to empower them and improve patient access to care are picking up steam. However, many consumers still lack unfettered access to care provided by APRNs because two-thirds of states do not allow them to practice without physician supervision—and even in states that do, APRNs aren’t always able to practice independently.

Stronger Primary Care System Is Goal of RWJF Scholar
RWJF Executive Nurse Fellow Margaret Flinter, PhD, APRN, has been at the center of three movements: community-oriented primary care, the growth of the community health center movement, and the growth of nurse practitioners as primary care providers. She founded the country’s first formal post-graduate residency training program for new nurse practitioners, and co-directs The Primary Care Team: Learning from Effective Ambulatory Practices, a national project supported by RWJF that is working to help health care organizations develop and accelerate innovations.  

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Jan 10 2014

The Primary Care Technician: A New Class of Health Care Providers

Arthur Kellermann, MD, MPH, FACEP, an alumnus of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Clinical Scholars and Health Policy Fellows programs, is dean of the F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. He wrote an article in the November issue of Health Affairs calling for a new class of health care provider—the primary care technician—to improve accessibility to and affordability of primary care.


Human Capital Blog: What is the thrust of your idea?

Arthur Kellermann: We’ve had a decades-long shortage of primary care physicians in this country and, up until now, it has defied solution. One definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. My article suggests a rethinking, and literally a reengineering, of how we deliver primary care in this country. It makes the case for a new class of providers—primary care technicians (PCTs)—who would work remotely, under the online supervision of primary care physicians or nurse practitioners (NPs), to manage stable chronic disease patients, treat minor illnesses and injuries, and provide basic preventive services. These PCTs would make primary care more accessible, more convenient, and more affordable to Americans, wherever they live.

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Dec 5 2013

Human Capital News Roundup: Light-based defibrillators, the primary care workforce, how women change men, and more.

Around the country, print, broadcast, and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows, alumni, and grantees. Some recent examples:

A strong primary care system is essential to improving health care in the United States, and front-line clinicians, staff, and leaders need to re-examine traditional roles and responsibilities, Maryjoan Ladden, PhD, RN, FAAN, told Medical Home News. Ladden is senior program officer for RWJF’s Human Capital portfolio. To investigate primary care workforce transformation, RWJF funded The Primary Care Team: Learning from Effective Ambulatory Practices (LEAP), Ladden said.  Her full interview is available at: (subscription required.)

Women with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) gain weight more rapidly and are more likely to be overweight or obese than other women, according to a study co-authored by RWJF Health & Society Scholars alumna Magdalena Cerda, DrPH. The study, featured in Health Canal, is the first to look at the relationship between PTSD and obesity over time.

New tools such as the Omnibus Risk Estimator, which the American Heart Association recommends doctors use instead of cholesterol tests to determine whether to prescribe statins, are developed with little regulatory authority over their design and use, Jason Karlawish, MD, writes in a New York Times op-ed. Karlawish, recipient of an RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research, encourages better oversight and regulations to monitor such tools.

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Nov 4 2013

Stimulating Primary Care Transformation

Michael Hochman, MD, MPH, is medical director for Innovation at AltaMed Health Services, a 43-site federally qualified health center in Southern California.  He completed the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Clinical Scholars program at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in 2012.  While a Clinical Scholar, Hochman co-led a primary care demonstration that was published last month in JAMA Internal Medicine.  He recently published, 50 Studies Every Doctor Should Know.


Primary care in the United States is at a crossroads.  As health care becomes increasingly disjointed and costs continue to rise, primary care providers face increasing pressure to take charge of the health system.  Indeed, we know that health care systems with more developed primary care infrastructures are more efficient and of higher quality than those with a weaker primary care foundation.

But at the same time, more and more health care professionals are shying away from careers in primary care.  Not only is the work challenging (late-night phone calls, numerous tests and studies to follow up on, ever-increasing regulatory requirements), but the pay is lower than in other fields of medicine.

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Sep 23 2013

Primary Care on the Front Lines of Innovation

Maryjoan Ladden, PhD, RN, FAAN, is a senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


During a recent visit to my adopted home state of Massachusetts, I took a fresh look at a primary care practice I had previously known only from afar. I was part of the team visiting Cambridge Health Alliance–Union Square Family Health, which is one of 30 primary care practices recognized as exemplar models for workforce innovation by The Primary Care Team: Learning From Effective Ambulatory Practices (LEAP) project. This project, a new initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the MacColl Center at Group Health Research Institute, is studying these 30 practice sites to identify new strategies in workforce development and interprofessional collaboration. The overarching goal of LEAP is to better understand the innovative models that make primary care more efficient, effective, and satisfying to both patients and providers, and ultimately lead to improved patient outcomes.

This site visit took me back to my time as a nurse practitioner at Boston Medical Center, Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, and Boston’s school-based health centers. This is where my passion for primary care began. As we prepare for millions more Americans to enter the health care system in the coming year, we must identify ways to expand access to primary care, improve the quality of care, and control costs. One important way is by exploring how to optimize the varied and expansive skill sets of all members of the primary care team. This idea has been examined in medical and popular media, but there has been little study of the workforce innovations employed by primary care practices to meet the increasing demands for health care.

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Sep 11 2013

Primary Care Physicians in Demand, Salaries Rising

For years, medical students have been choosing specialties over primary care at a rate that has alarmed experts concerned about a shortage of primary care providers. Two new surveys shed light on the primary care workforce.

Primary care physicians were the most actively recruited professionals within the physician and advanced practitioner recruiting market by the health care staffing firm Merritt Hawkins & Associates from April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013. Merritt Hawkins recently released a report summarizing the trends among its 3,097 recruiting assignments in 48 states conducted during that time period. For the seventh consecutive year, family physicians and general internists were the top two most requested physicians, the report says.

The firm also notes a rise in demand for physician assistants and nurse practitioners, as well as an acute shortage of psychiatrists.

In addition to being in high demand, another survey from the Hays Group, a global management consulting firm, finds primary care physicians could see a higher salary increase than specialists in 2014. The growth will be even greater for primary care physicians in hospital-based settings, the report says.

Read a summary of the Merritt Hawkins report.
Read a news release about the Hays Group survey.

Sep 4 2013

Recent Research About Nursing, September 2013

This is part of the September 2013 issue of Sharing Nursing's Knowledge.

More New Nurse Practitioners Heading to Primary Care

Two recent analyses of workforce data offer new insights into the role nurse practitioners (NPs) are likely to play in combating the coming shortage of primary care providers in the U.S.

The first analysis, commissioned by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and released in August, finds that slightly more than half the nation’s nurse practitioners are practicing primary care. In all, 55,625 of the nation’s 106,073 nurse practitioners are in primary care, according to data drawn from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ National Provider Identifier database.

At the same time, an analysis of graduation trends conducted by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Executive Nurse Fellow alumna Debra Barksdale, PhD, RN, FAAN, and colleagues, finds that graduation rates for NPs suggest more help is on the way. According to Barksdale’s reading of data from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties, 84 percent of NP graduates in 2012 were prepared in primary care. That represents an eye-catching 18.6 percent increase from 2011 to 2012.

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Aug 21 2013

Pros and Cons of Federally Mandated Comprehensive Care

Italo M. Brown, MPH, is a rising third-year medical student at Meharry Medical College. He holds a BS from Morehouse College, and an MPH in epidemiology and social & behavioral sciences from Boston University, School of Public Health. He is a Health Policy Scholar at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College. Read all the blog posts in this series.


In 1986, Congress took a step in the direction of patient advocacy by passing the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). One part of this act, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), has served as the precedent for federally mandated care and has largely shaped our understanding of urgent care delivery in America. While some have touted EMTALA as a public health victory, many have scrutinized the federal mandate, citing its imperfection and labeling it as a strong contributor to the current ailments of our emergency medical system.


However, 27 years after EMTALA became law, a greater emphasis is placed on preventive measures and comprehensive care, rather than urgent care, as a means to reduce negative health outcomes. Naturally, champions of cost-efficient comprehensive care have suggested that a federal mandate should be explored.

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