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Survey: Consumers Open to Larger Physician Assistant, Nurse Practitioner Roles

As the physician shortage in the United States grows, so does the debate of the role non-physician providers, such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners, should play in patient care. The Association of American Medical Colleges' Consumer Survey recently found patients welcome PAs and NPs to play a larger role in their care, according to an article in Health Affairs.

When survey respondents were asked which provider — a physician, physician assistant or nurse practitioner — they would prefer to see, 50.3 percent opted for a physician, according to the article.

However, when respondents were presented with a scenario of seeing a PA or NP today as opposed to a physician tomorrow for a worsening cough, 59.6 percent chose to be seen by a PA or NP. Similar scenarios, where patients could see a PA or NP sooner than seeing a physician, produced similar results, according to the Health Affairs article.

The findings come at a time when many states, including Missouri and California, are considering expanding or already expanded PA and/or NP scope of care to help supplement care in the face of physician shortages.

Survey data was based on responses from 2,053 adults who indicated that they or a physician believed they needed medical care at least once in the past year, according to the article.

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