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Shortage of Physicians Will Cause Hoosiers to Seek Other Providers

An aging population in the U.S. and an anticipated shortage of primary care physicians may cause more Americans to see nurse practitioners and physician assistants in the next decade or two.

And a recent survey by Purdue communication professor Evan Perrault shows widespread misunderstanding about what practices they are allowed to perform.

Perrault and his team conducted a nationwide survey of almost 4,000 people, and nearly half of participants did not know a physician assistant is allowed to prescribe medication.

An additional one-third are not aware a nurse practitioner can diagnose illnesses.

"They're able to diagnose illnesses, they're able to order lab tests, they're able to perscribe medication-- in most cases," Perrault says. 

This spells concern when the U.S. is projected to face a shortage of  physicians, which could mean more Hoosiers will be seen by nurse practitioners or physician assistants, and will need to know what services each can provide.

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