MILWAUKEE -

Wisconsin has done a better job of holding onto its primary care physicians than most other states, and new programs for aspiring doctors have positioned the state to weather a possible shortage when the national health care overhaul takes effect next year.

Some states already have a shortage of primary-care physicians, and their problems could get worse when health care reforms go into effect in January. Millions of newly insured Americans are likely to seek care for the first time in years, possibly swamping short-staffed health systems.

But Wisconsin appears to be in good shape. The state ranks 14th in the U.S. with 86 primary-care physicians per 100,000 residents. Wisconsin's pipeline for producing more doctors is expanding, and programs are in place to encourage doctors to practice in rural areas.