Congress introduces legislation to address residency position shortage

If enacted, the DOC Act would support the development of 1,600 new residency positions for primary care physicians.

Last week, Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) introduced the Doctors of Community (DOC) Act, which would, if enacted, permanently authorize and fund the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program. The legislation would also expand THCGME and support the development of 100 new residency programs and create an estimated 1,600 new residency slots, the largest residency expansion since 1997.

On Monday, New Jersey family physician Ira Monka, DO, an AOA Trustee, spoke at a Facebook Live event hosted by Congressman Pallone to promote the legislation.

“[Congressman Pallone’s] efforts to increase funding for graduate medical education this past year will help grow the primary care physician workforce and improve patient access to care,” Dr. Monka said. “Forty percent of physicians in rural and underserved areas are osteopathic physicians, and more than 20% of physicians currently training in THCGME programs are DOs. The DOC Act will provide new and greater access to physician-led health care and support additional access for patients in medically underserved and rural communities.”

THCGME program funding is currently set to expire in 2023. The DOC Act will provide over $500 million per year from 2024-2033 as well as a permanent authorization of funding after 2034, according to a legislation fact sheet.


  1. Jerome sitner

    Why don’t congress increase fee for primary doctors by paying Medicare rates for Medicaid patients than maybe more students would be able afford go in to primary care

    1. John Jackson

      They do, at rural health clinic They do pay Medicare rates for medicaid. Go to a rusl shortage area like western nebraska and you will get those rates

  2. Doug Tacket, DO

    Good luck new FM programs. With all the patient numbers criteria promulgated by the arbitrary and hidebound ACGME Family Medicine Review Committee, as well as the “we no longer require a specific number of deliveries but, whatever you are doing isn’t enough” regulations to deal with, programs will spend more time on administration than teaching. Sure, the ACGME-FM RC allows new programs to be aspirational but wait until you get your continuing accreditation visit and are saddled with citations that your administration thinks should never exist.
    Just because something is difficult does not mean it shouldn’t be done. However, the accrediting bodies will need to rapidly rethink how we teach Family Medicine in the 21st century and rapidly shift priorities and methods to meet the actual rather than perceived needs of the population.

    1. Proud DO

      I think that RCs for FM have good intentions and citations are meant to spark improvement not be punitive – at least in most cases. I didn’t deliver babies after leaving residency but the experience I received while in residency with deliveries has no doubt made me a better physician.

      Maybe start to think that residency training can affect how care is delivered and population needs – rather than thinking of education as reactionary. Well trained and rounded FM physicians particularly during residency sets physicians apart from other professions.

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