Missouri first in US to let physicians practice without completing residency

Alyssa Rege - Print  | 

A Missouri law allowing medical school graduates to treat patients without having completed a designated residency program — the first law of its kind in the U.S. — went into effect after nearly three years, according to 41 Action News.

The law created the role of "assistant physician," which applies to medical school graduates who, under certain rules, may be allowed to treat patients without completing residency. Former Missouri Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon signed the law into effect in 2014, but officials took nearly three years to implement it, according to the report.

To become an assistant physician, medical school graduates must speak English, have passed the first two steps of the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam, enter into the primary care field, plan to practice in a medically underserved rural or urban area, and work with a collaborating physician within 50 miles of the assistant's practice.

The state currently boasts 25 assistant physicians.

However, not all medical associations are on board with the law. David Barbe, MD, president of the American Medical Association, said in a statement to 41 Action News, "The AMA appreciates that the intent of this law is to bridge critical gaps in the healthcare workforce, particularly those due to limited residency positions. However, we encourage states to pursue more practical workforce solutions, such as increasing the number of state-funded residency positions."

The American Academy of Physician Assistants also voiced its opposition to the law in a statement to the television station, the report states.

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