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June 26, 1972

Current Status of the Physician's Assistant and Related Issues

Author Affiliations

Dr. Todd is Chairman, AMA Council on Health Manpower; Mr. Foy is Director, Department of Health Manpower.

JAMA. 1972;220(13):1714-1720. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03200130044009

Today in the United States, virtually all family practitioners and pediatricians, most internists, and some obstetricians serve as primary-care physicians to patients and their families. Nevertheless, a large number of people are living in areas that can be classified as "medically underserved" in that the services of physicians and other health professionals are not available in proportion to need. The problem is particularly acute in the slum and urban ghetto areas of cities as well as in many rural communities. While it may be true that more physicians are needed, maldistribution and less than optimum utilization of health manpower result from conditions which cannot be treated by simply increasing supply. In fact, the problem may be aggravated by that approach. A preferred approach is to foster more effective use of existing health manpower and to encourage use of new types of allied health personnel where their need has been adequately