Focusing Efforts on Rural Health through a Workforce Approach

Wednesday, June 20
10:45 - 11:15


This session will discuss physician assistants' (PA) roles and clinical characteristics in rural areas based on evidence from analyzing the most recent PA survey data. Among the 83,466 practicing PAs in the US in 2010, 18.1 percent worked in rural areas, compared to 16.5 percent of Americans living there and 9 percent of physicians practicing there. Most of rural PAs practice primary care. Level of rurality affects the likelihood with which PAs perform clinical preventive services (79.5 percent in isolated towns, 69.1 percent in small towns, 66.0 percent in large towns and 59.6 percent in urban areas). Provider supply is a crucial component of any public health system. PAs play greater roles in primary care, preventive services, and chronic disease management in rural areas. Being twice as likely to work in rural America as their physician counterparts, PAs make a significant contribution to serving non-urban populations. The researchers concluded that PAs' make great contributions to population health in rural areas. This study suggests that expanding and enhancing PAs' medical practice in rural areas should serve as a key component of a national strategy to address physician shortages and reduce health inequities between urban and rural communities. From a policy perspective, incentive packages to attract urban PAs to rural areas should be considered.

At the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  1. Explain the dimensions of the healthcare provider shortage in rural America and its impact on health disparities.
  2. Implement a strategic approach to improve rural health by utilizing PAs in rural areas.
  3. Describe incentives to attract urban PAs to rural areas.

Presented by the PHS Commissioned Officers Foundation/Association in Partnership with the University of Maryland School of Public Health and the Indian Health Clinical Support Center (accredited sponsor)

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