A physician shortage and the role of non-physician providers

Elsa Pearson is a Policy Analyst with Boston University’s School of Public Health. She tweets at @epearsonbusph.

Austin and I coauthored an article on the impending physician shortage, out in STAT today. We reason that while a physician shortage is likely, the best solution may not be more physicians.

Specifically, we argue for expanded autonomy for non-physician providers and standardized scope of practice laws nationwide. The number of nurse practitioners, physician assistants, etc. is growing rapidly and they could play a critical role in improving access to care amid a physician shortage.

We also suggest reforming the current resident physician training program – graduate medical education – for the sake of efficiency and simplicity.

The U.S. has the best health care in the world but access to it is fading fast. Reforming graduate medical education may be needed to prepare for future workforce demands, but independent practice for non-physician practitioners is likely at the crux of an immediate solution.

Go read the whole thing.

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