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July 2014

Expanding the Roles of Medical Assistants: Who Does What in Primary Care?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Center for Excellence in Primary Care, University of California, San Francisco
JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(7):1025-1026. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.1319

Adult primary care in the United States faces a dilemma. Many patients report poor access to their primary care clinician. Yet the growing demand for primary care leads to high levels of clinician burnout. A commonly voiced solution is to increase the numbers of adult primary care clinicians—physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. However, most workforce projections find that there will not be enough clinicians to meet the increasing demand.1 At the same time, many primary care activities do not require a clinician’s expertise, creating dissatisfied practitioners working well below their skill level. To meet the demand for primary care and to improve the work life of clinicians, it is sensible to redistribute responsibilities to other members of the primary care team.

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