UConn and QU medical programs highlight primary care; hoping to cut down PCP shortage

UConn and QU medical programs highlight primary care hoping to cut down PCP shortage
Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 8:15 PM EST
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(WFSB) - Eyewitness News continues our coverage on the doctor shortage.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the US could be short 48,000 primary care physicians in the next ten years.

We first told you earlier this is why Connecticut is having a hard time finding primary care doctors.

The I-Team is now highlighting two local medical school programs putting an emphasis on primary care.


At UConn Health, students from the School of Medicine don’t just learn, they get to provide real life primary care.

Students, like Nicole Kriven, are expected to think and act like physicians.

Kirven is a second-year medical student.

Once a week, she comes here to shadow Doctor Rebecca Andrews.

“They give us a lot of independence and freedom. They want us to practice the physical exams, get the history and counsel patients too which is really cool,” says Kirven. 

“We go in, she sees them on her own, gets to practice doing a presentation and the thinking through of what could be going on with a patient,” says Doctor Rebecca Andrews, with UConn Health. “Then we go in together, do the exam, make sure that there’s nothing else that I might think of that she hadn’t and then we develop a patient plan together.”

”I think from the other side of things you don’t realize how many patients the doctor sees a day and how fast they have to go and how many hats they wear at once,” says Kirven. 

The same kind of training is happening at Quinnipiac University’s School of Medicine, under the guidance of Doctor Khuram Ghumman.

”Where the students right from the get go, from year 1, get to spend half a day at a clinical site,” says Doctor Ghumman.

The schools hope their programs encourage students to go into primary care, a field that is currently seeing large shortages.

“It’s important to get them exposed early on so they can develop some of those interests and skills and they get to see it firsthand,” says Doctor Ghumman.


Here in Connecticut, we have nearly 3,900 primary care doctors, around 108 doctors for every 100,000 people. That’s the tenth highest rate in the country.

But Doctor Ghumman says we could use 10-15% more PCP’s to prepare for the future.

”We’re hoping to retain them in and then hopefully more of those students, graduates will choose primary care,” says Ghumman.

It’s an uphill battle.

In 2022, the Quinnipiac School of Medicine had 40 graduates, out of 97, choose to specialize in primary care.

Here are their numbers over the last 5 years.

Family Medicine71181298
Internal Medicine131520161718
Internal Medicine/Pediatrics001020
Primary Care Total283133393940
All Specialties598086819197
Percent Matching into Primary Care Fields at Netter47%39%38%48%43%41%

At UConn, 25-percent of graduates from the school of medicine entered primary care residencies this year.

From 2018 through 2020, it was between 40-50 percent.


At UConn, the class sizes are typically around 110. The percentages may be lower in recent years, because of COVID. Many graduates chose to go into psychiatry or emergency medicine, which have more dire shortages.

”It really does take someone who is adaptable, who wants to study different aspects of medicine, not just one field,” says Doctor Andrews.

That’s why programs like these, Doctor Andrews says, are so important. She hopes students see what she loves about the job when they’re with her.

”I have the opportunity to see patients over decades of their life,” says Andrews. “I treat complex diseases and I get to be the master of the ship.”

For Nicole Kirven, her time spent with Doctor Andrews has her thinking about primary care in a different way.

”It’s definitely made me think about it a little bit more. They definitely have more of a balanced schedule I would say,” says Kirven. “I want to grow up and have a family and time with kids too. I think that’s a nice aspect of it.”


QU’s School of Medicine has a Primary Care Fellowship Program, as well as scholarships for those who want to work in underserved communities, in rural areas, etc.

You can find out more about their scholarships and fellowships here: https://www.qu.edu/schools/medicine/tuition-and-financial-aid/types-of-aid/scholarships-and-fellowships/

The UCONN School of Medicine has a Primary Care Scholarship and Loan Program (PCL). It’s a very low interest loan program, created as an incentive to attract more students to careers in primary care. This was meant to offset/ameliorate the financial concerns or barriers to primary care.


  • Primary care is defined as Internal Medicine, Family Medicine and Pediatrics
  • The loan amount is $10,000 per year at a flat interest rate of 1% if they practice in CT. If they chose to practice outside of CT after their training the interest goes to 3%
  • Loans can be deferred during training and after training the obligation is a year of work in primary care for each year of financial support.
  • The program supports 4 students per year who apply to the program

UConn is planning to expand this program to allow more students the opportunity and we are working on a Primary Care Track for students who come into medical school interested in Primary Care. More information here: https://health.uconn.edu/financial-aid/other-aid-alternative-loans/

There is also UConn’s curriculum’s Clinical Longitudinal Immersion in the Community (CLIC) Program which matches first year medical students to work for three to four years alongside faculty and other community based primary care physician preceptors in internal medicine, family medicine, and pediatrics, and with some clinical subspecialists.