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Saturday, February 04, 2006

A Solution for the PCP Shortage

Friend and former fellow parishioner Chuck Kleber has referred me to a recent statement from the American College of Physicians (ACS) as reported in a Reuters article by reporter Maggie Fox. In unusually dire terms, ACS said that our system of primary care threatens to fall apart because fewer and fewer young physicians are going into that specialty.

The remedy proposed by ACS is to pay primary care physicians (PCPs) more and to give them a larger role in the organization and management of care.

I have an alternative suggestion: have physicians’ assistants and nurse practitioners take on most of what PCPs have been doing.

In a recent posting, Don Arnwine testified that in his own case, he was happy to get the information he needed from a nurse rather than wait for the doctor to return his call.

As it happens, Mrs. Wittrup is going through a course of care in which the primary care functions are being carried out by a nurse practitioner. She is convinced that she is getting more attention and, therefore, better care that way.

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