Can PAs and NPs Replace Primary-Care Docs?

May 9, 2016

Share your thoughts on whether or not advanced practitioners are the solution to the primary-care physician shortage or if they are not interchangeable.

HHS' Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) indicates there will be a shortage of 20,400 primary-care physicians by 2020. Other estimates, such as the one from the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), are even more drastic. AAMC is projecting a shortage of 124,000 full-time equivalent physicians by 2025.

HRSA says physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) integrated into a Patient-Centered Medical Home-type delivery system can ease this shortage. As more NPs and PAs are being integrated into medical practices, this has become a common proposed solution to crack this issue.

However, not everyone is on board with that belief. Some, like Reid Blackwelder, a family medicine physician, past president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, and professor of family medicine at the Quillen College of Medicine at East Tennessee State University, say certain positions in healthcare are not interchangeable. While they say NPs and PAs are important, they are not going to be a 1:1 replacement for physicians.

What do you think? Can PAs and NPs solve the primary-care physician shortage? Let us know what you think.

Answer in the comments section below!We'll share the best responses.