The State of Primary Care Physicians
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Primary care physicians are facing many dilemmas in their practices in recent years. With the high cost of running a medical practice, many physicians are feeling frustrated because they cannot provide the care they believe is necessary to make a difference in people’s lives.Some physicians have considered seeing more patients a day to balance cost, however, this means shorter patient visits. Many physicians continue in practices that pay them far less than their specialist colleagues.Under the new health care law, most U.S. residents are required to have health. About 32 million additional people are expected to enroll in some type of health plan. This means that 32 million people will try to double their consumption of medical care. How will Primary Care physicians handle this?A statistic from the Journal of the American Medical Association says that there are 778,000 practicing doctors in the United States, and just under half of them are primary care physicians. In response to this many medical schools are expanding.Many physicians are concerned of the quality of care that the patients will receive and whether or not it will suffer. Some suggestions have been that some patients may wish to have a choice to receive medical care for minor conditions by a retail clinic with evening hours, even if it is by someone other than a traditional medical doctor.Nurse practitioners and physician assistants have more medical training than registered nurses and are able to deliver some routine medical care without the direct supervision of a physician, including renewing and prescriptions for most drugs, counsel patients about prevention and wellness, treat for colds, sore throats and the flu, order blood tests, monitoring chronic conditions, and perform routine medical examinations.Recently many states have allowed nurse practitioners and physician assistants to be able to perform a wider scope of care. For example, Montana allows nurse practitioners to work without the supervision of a physician. Many states are debating further loosening restrictions that prevent nurse practitioners and physician assistants from performing more tasks independently.A number of medical schools are now offering three-year degree programs as an option to the traditional four-year program. Many medical students are considering this option as a way to finish school early and save anywhere from $35,000 to $50,000 in student loan debt.In the coming years the United States is facing a severe shortage of primary care physicians. Hopefully many more physicians can utilize having a physician assistant or a nurse practitioner to help with the work load. Using other medical personnel to free up physicians from routine tasks and care might allow physician’s to concentrate on those medical tasks for which they are uniquely qualified.