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April 2, 1997


JAMA. 1997;277(13):1089-1090. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540370079052

Although physicians have traditionally functioned as the primary health care providers for patients, that role is rapidly changing. No longer is the physician solely in charge of a patient's hospital management; multidisciplinary teams, with physicians often at the helm, are the new norm. The increasing number of nonphysician clinicians (NPCs) in our health care system poses new challenges to medical students. In an effort to make medical students better prepared for their evolving roles on the health care team, Pulse has devoted this issue to examining NPCs.

Richard Cooper, MD, in an essay surveying the field of NPCs, suggests that their rising prominence is due to an increasing economic need and an increasing willingness among physicians and patients to transfer care away from physicians. Indeed, the American College of Physicians' proposal to replace physician house staff with NPCs is an ominous sign of dwindling job prospects.1