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JAAPA. 2000 Jul;13(7):49-50, 56, 59 passim.

A rural-urban comparison of patterns of physician assistant practice.

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Center for Community, Economic, and Workforce Development, West Virginia University Extension Service, Morgantown, USA.


Access to primary care continues to be a concern in rural areas. The deficit of primary care providers in rural environments has the potential to increase the role of physician assistants (PAs) in the system of rural health care delivery. Little is known about the conditions, sites, and patterns of practice of PAs and their distribution in Pennsylvania, the state with the largest rural population. To learn more about these providers in rural and urban settings and their willingness to practice in underserved areas, the author conducted a census of all PAs who hold a Pennsylvania license. Survey results revealed significant rural-urban differences in socioeconomic, demographic, and practice profile parameters. Providers in rural areas are more likely than urban counterparts to practice primary care in a primary care practice setting; see more patients per week; and are the principal provider of care for a higher percentage of their patients. Experience with managed care is greater for urban PAs. A rural PA is more likely than an urban PA to practice in an underserved area. For both rural and urban PAs who practice primary care, significant differences were noted in their willingness to practice in a rural underserved area, compared to PAs who do not practice primary care.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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