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Primary Care and Diversity in the Physician Assistant Profession
Journal of Physician Assisted Education (2014)
  • Harry Pomeranz, Sacred Heart University
  • Jennifer R Baily, University of South Carolina
  • Carolyn Bradley-Guidry
INTRODUCTION In the 1960s, the federal government initiated several measures in an effort to improve the health care of the poor in this country. These included the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, the development of community health centers (CHCs), and the introduction of physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs). Today, our nation continues to face a shortage of primary care providers, and the shortage is expected to increase with the passing of the Affordable Care Act. Over the last two decades, the percentage of PAs working in primary care has been declining. According to the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), in 1996, 50.8% of PAs worked in family medicine, general internal medicine, and general pediatrics; by 2010, the percentage had dropped to 31%. Medically underserved communities are especially in need of primary care providers, since they tend to have poorer health outcomes. Nationally, PAs comprise 10% of the health care providers working with the poor in CHCs. Most patients who utilize CHCs receive Medicaid or State Children’s Health Insurance Program assistance.1 Several studies have reported that certain demographic groups are more highly represented among PAs who provide primary care in underserved communities. Some of these factors included older age, lower income status, and being Hispanic or black.2,3 Adequately serving these populations will mean increasing the proportion of PAs and PA students who are Hispanic, black, older, and from lower income groups.
  • Community health centers,
  • nurses,
  • physicians assistants,
  • primary care
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Citation Information
Harry Pomeranz, Jennifer R Baily and Carolyn Bradley-Guidry. "Primary Care and Diversity in the Physician Assistant Profession" Journal of Physician Assisted Education Vol. 25 Iss. 4 (2014)
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