When Farmer Joe Gets Sick, Here's Who He Sees

In this March 22, 2010 photo, Amanda Cockrell, 32, left, a nurse practitioner at Rush Lifetime Medical Associates examines Shanequa Reeves, 18, in Chicago. With a looming shortage of primary care doctors, 28 states are considering expanding the authority of nurse practitioners. These nurses with advanced degrees want the right to practice without a doctor’s watchful eye and to prescribe narcotics. And if they hold a doctorate, they want to be called “Doctor.” (AP/John Smierciak) photocredit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

The U.S. isn’t exactly overflowing with primary care physicians. The job pays poorly compared to most medical specialties, while often requiring mastery of a fraud range of material. In fact, with expansion of insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act, many experts worried that it would become increasingly difficult for people to gain access to primary care physicians, especially in rural parts of the country, which have long-standing shortages of such professionals.
So when Farmer Joe gets sick, who does he see? With increasing likelihood, he’s being cared for by a nurse practitioner (NP).
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