Primary Care Champion: Dr. Kyu Rhee, National Association of Community Health Centers

Meet one of the leading voices striving for stronger primary care

About the Champion

Dr. Kyu (“Q”) Rhee, MD, MPP, joined NACHC in 2023 to lead efforts to advance health equity and support the mission of community health centers, which provide high-quality, affordable, transdisciplinary primary care services to more than 31.5 million people at over 14,000 sites across the nation. Read his full bio here.

  1. Why are you passionate about primary care? 

    I’m passionate about achieving true health equity in this nation and believe making affordable, high-quality, patient-centered primary care accessible to all will help us get there. 
  2. If you had a magic wand that you could wave to change one thing (such as a policy or inequity) in primary care, what would it be?

    I have to wave my magic wand twice! The opportunities for the biggest systemic change fall into two buckets:

    I) More funding for Community Health Centers to meet the surge in demand for primary care so that they can go from serving 1 in 11 Americans to 1 in 3. We all know about the primary care crisis. In early 2023, NACHC released a report showing that 100 million people in the US -- 1/3 of the country -- lack access to primary care. Health centers are uniquely situated to fill this gap in primary care access while reducing health disparities. We just need the resources to do so.

    II) We need more primary care clinicians: At NACHC, we’re focused on developing the pipeline for the future primary care workforce. That means more teaching health centers, mentoring programs, AND improving and increasing the compensation for primary care clinicians. We should also elevate primary care as an exciting career choice. I think we do that as early as elementary school!
  3. What one thing about your work do you want people working outside primary care to know or understand?

    One thing you learn quickly in the field of primary care is that health is so much more than health care. A patient’s health is about issues of housing, education, access to healthy food, labor and employment, translator services, transportation, and a broader holistic view of health. You discover as a clinician that you have a responsibility to go beyond that exam room. It’s about thinking about health care but also thinking about the broader determinants of health – and doing whatever it takes.
  4. Looking back on your career, what’s the most significant contribution to primary care that you or your team have made?

    Truly, I believe that it’s the opportunity I have as NACHC president and CEO right now to make the most significant contribution of my career: to play a part in making Community Health Centers the provider of choice, the employer of choice, and the partner of choice, and to extend this affordable, innovative, and high-quality model of care to more Americans in the next decade. That would be a monumental achievement.
Go to top