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Advanced Practitioners Key to Expanding Primary Care

Chelsea Rice, for HealthLeaders Media, December 17, 2012

"It's really a seller's market for physician assistants right now," says Dr. Brad Smith, Medical Director at Knox Community Hospital Urgent Care Center, who used to work in a family medicine practice and is hiring PAs at his urgent care center.

He sees the growth of the urgent care business as a reaction to the primary care shortage and access issues. He sees urgent care as a helpful transition for primary care, because at his center they actively try to coordinate with their patients' primary care physician to follow up on patients and collaborate around the patient's care.

But even at the urgent care center, to help cover patient volumes they staff advanced practitioners to fill the gaps between their full time physicians' shifts. They are open to hiring recent graduates and PAs with many different backgrounds of experience.

"There's a shortage of PAs out there, and they are hard to find. So sometimes you have to deal with the hand you're given, and we're very open to and excited to train a new physician assistant, because they are likely to stick around if you establish that foundation for them."

Smith says any of the physician assistants he's worked with would stack up easily with their knowledge when compared with a physician. "A middle-tier trained physician who has trained for ten years would probably have the equivalent knowledge base of a top-tier trained physician who has recently graduated," says Smith. "I think you could apply that to comparing physician assistants and physicians as well."


Chelsea Rice is an associate editor for HealthLeaders Media.
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2 comments on "Advanced Practitioners Key to Expanding Primary Care"


ab3256 (12/21/2012 at 5:20 AM)
I feel that your comments are not suitable here Praveen, many PA/NP's have gone through extensive studying and hands on experience is also very important. Whether you have an MD or PA after your name, does not preclude to whether you are fit as a provider or not. We spend quite a big portion of our careers hands on, learning from no other than MD's and other PA's or NP's. So I suggest that you go back from your education came from and start analyzing what you have just written. To state some totally out of line statement such as "we are trying to take advantage of the affordable care act" is preposterous and ridiculous. People like you should not be allowed to practice when you are so intolerant and arrogant.

praveen (12/18/2012 at 3:59 PM)
NPs and PAs 1) Neither should be working independently of physicians in any state. 2) We need to train more primary care doctors, make more residency spots for primary and fill them with qualified foreign graduates. 3) The is no comparison between a board certified doctor and NPs and PAs in terms of depth of knowledge and ability to handle complex cases. 4) PAs and especially NPs are using the Afford Care Act to engage in the a great power/position grab and claim independent status. Don't fall for this.