In January 2010, the Wisconsin Hospital Association Board of Directors created a workgroup and charged it with studying Wisconsin’s physician workforce in order to determine whether the projected number of physicians would meet the needs of Wisconsin’s patients in the future and to craft options to address any identified needs.
The Workgroup determined that by 2030, there would be a serious deficit in the number of physicians in the state. In brief, the Workgroup laid out in a white paper, “100 New Physicians a Year, An Imperative for Wisconsin,” issue areas that required attention to address the anticipated gap between physician supply and demand and potential options that could close the gap. At the time, WHA noted, “The release of the latest report met with massive press coverage and was greeted enthusiastically by stakeholders across the state.”
Perhaps the most cited finding from the report is that when graduates of a Wisconsin medical school also have their residencies in a Wisconsin program, there is a 70% chance they will practice in Wisconsin. This finding, which upon further study has shown an 86% chance of practicing in Wisconsin, is now known as the “Grow Our Own” equation.
The report’s “Grow Our Own” equation and recommendation for state funding to develop and sustain Wisconsin physician residency programs continues to be a cornerstone of WHA’s physician workforce advocacy. New state funded grants to establish new and expand existing GME programs became law in 2013 and were updated in 2019. Through 2019, nine new residencies have been created and an additional nine programs expanded in Wisconsin through the GME grant program. These expansions will create an estimated 151 new physicians in Wisconsin by 2024.
In the years leading up to and following the Workgroup’s report, WHA also advocated for funds used to help train additional doctors to serve rural areas and to increase substantially the maximum amount of loan repayment for doctors who decide to practice in rural areas. Further, WHA developed resources for use by hospitals that seeking to implement residency programs, and WHA supported the establishment of two satellite medical schools to increase the number of physicians in underserved areas.
The Workgroup’s report additionally recognized the need for a coordinated effort to address anticipated changes in care delivery, including the team-based approach and the focus on care management. To address these issues, the report called for increasing the number of non-physician providers.
The 2013 WHA Healthcare Workforce Report found that the physician shortage in Wisconsin was triggering a demand for advanced practice professionals, noting that hospital positions for advanced practice nurses and physician assistants had the highest vacancy rate of the occupations included in the WHA annual workforce survey. Increasing the number of APPs and “top of license” practice soon became a top focus of WHA’s advocacy efforts.
Watch "Grow Our Own" Video.