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October 16, 1972

Comments on Feldshers

JAMA. 1972;222(3):357. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03210030075023

In the United States, the physician's assistant—the PA—is becoming more and more significant as a possible answer to the physician shortage. In view of all the current publicity, a recent article1 on the feldsher in the USSR offers some interesting comparisons.

The feldsher, part of the broad category of allied health personnel, is regarded as "a medical assistant who acts as an auxiliary to the doctor." A considerable specialization exists, including laboratory technicians, feldsher midwives, and "sanitarians." In 1970, the total number of allied health personnel in Russia was given as 1,944,000. Of this number approximately half were nurses, and some 550,000 were feldshers and feldsher-midwives. Of all the allied health personnel some 76% are women, but of the feldshers about half are men. For every 10,000 population the Russians are hoping, by 1980, to have 34 physicians and 111 allied health personnel.

For training allied health personnel, approximately