Getting Started in Primary Care

So you are interested in learning more about primary care research, fantastic! Below you will learn more about what primary care research is, as well as answers to frequently asked questions about primary care research and resources and other organizations that can help you get started.

Frequently Asked Questions

Primary care research is research done by members of the primary care team, with their patients and communities that they serve.

Primary care research includes:

  • Translating science into the practice of medicine and caring for patients
  • Understanding how to better organize health care to meet patient and population needs
  • Evaluating innovations to provide the best health care to patients
  • Engaging patients, communities, and practices to improve health

Research is a critical component to the continued growth and development of the field of primary care medicine. Most patient care occurs in primary care offices, but most research is done in academic medical centers. The primary care office is an ideal laboratory for the study of issues patients face. And yet, the majority of research funding supports research of one specific disease, organ system, cellular or chemical process—not for primary care. Very little is known about important topics such as how primary care services are best organized, how to maximize and prioritize care, how to introduce and disseminate new discoveries so they work in real life, and how patients can best decide how and when to seek care.

In everyday patient care, primary care researchers evaluate, select, recommend, and explain new information and clinical interventions. The primary care office is an ideal laboratory for the study of issues patients face. And yet, the majority of research funding supports research of one specific disease, organ system, cellular or chemical process—not for primary care. Very little is known about important topics such as how primary care services are best organized, how to maximize and prioritize care, how to introduce and disseminate new discoveries so they work in real life, and how patients can best decide how and when to seek care.

There are many opportunities for you to contribute to the research enterprise, from simply collecting data for a large study to being the primary investigator of a nationally funded project. Primary care researchers are needed at every level. Everyone has the opportunity to participate in the essential process of identifying and answering questions that change practice and improve the health of our patients. 

Start with a limited role that uses your current knowledge and matches your clinical interests. You can learn research methods, data analysis, writing, and presenting skills as you expand your responsibilities. Most importantly, find a mentor who can guide your interests and support your work. There are many organizations that provide opportunities for trainees as well as anyone interested in research to get involved. Many Departments of Medicine have student research programs, and all family medicine residency programs require involvement in research. 

NAPCRG is the leading organization devoted to primary care research. It is also a nurturing environment that welcomes and supports new researchers at all stages of their careers. The NAPCRG Annual Meeting is the premier place to present your research, build skills through workshops, meet colleagues, and share in building the future of primary care. 

Impact & Success Stories

Hear the success stories of your fellow NAPCRG members and learn how the findings from primary care research translate into improved patient care and outcomes. These stories demonstrate to funding partners and other key stakeholders the direct impact of primary care research on patients and the way primary care is administered

Do you have success story you would like to share? Tell us your story in writing by filling out this form here. The stories should have outcomes that address improvements in health, healthcare quality, access and/or cost. Ideally, the story will show that real differences can be accomplished as a result of investing in primary care research. Contact Jill Haught at jhaught@napcrg.org for more information on the Impact Stories project.

Other Organizations

Additional Book & Journal Resources

An Odyssey of Primary Care Research, Historical Perspectives

by Edward Bujold MD FAAFP (Author), Paul Wise (Editor)

The Beloved Physician Sir James Mackenzie

by R. McNair Wilson (Author)

The Life of Sir William Osler, Volume 1

by Harvey Cushing (Author)

The Craft of Research

by Wayne C Booth (Author)

Designing Clinical Research

by Dr. Stephen B Hulley MD MPH (Author),‎ Steven R Cummings MD (Author),‎ Warren S Browner MD MPH (Author),‎ Deborah G Grady MD MPH (Author),‎ Thomas B Newman MD MPH (Author) (Author)

Bootcamp Translation

by Linda Zittleman (Author)

How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing

by Paul J. Silvia

The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis

by Thomas Goetz (Author)

The Annals of Family Medicine

Family Medicine

The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine

Family Practice

Journal of Primary Care & Community Health

Journal of Patient-Centered Research and Reviews

Have a question? Reach out to a staff member or specific department for help.

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