If you’re looking to recruit physicians to grow your practice, it may turn out to be a daunting challenge.

That’s because the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) estimates that between now and 2015, the shortage of doctors across all specialties will quadruple. Previous estimates showed a baseline shortage of 39,600 doctors in 2015, but AAMC’s current estimates are closer to 63,000, with a worsening of shortages through 2025.

This shortage includes:

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  • 29,000 primary care doctors
  • 33,100 physicians in specialties such as cardiology, oncology, and emergency medicine

The answer to this dilemma may be to hire a physician assistant (PA) to expand your practice. A PA is a graduate of an accredited PA educational program who is nationally certified and state licensed to practice medicine under the supervision of a physician.

PAs deliver a broad range of medical and surgical services, including:

  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Obtaining medical histories
  • Diagnosing and treating illnesses
  • Ordering and interpreting lab tests
  • Performing procedures
  • Assisting in surgery
  • Providing patient education and counseling on preventive health
  • Making rounds in hospitals and nursing homes
  • Prescribing medications

All 50 states and the District of Columbia allow PAs to practice and prescribe medications.

Employers of PAs are eligible for reimbursement from Medicare for physician services provided by PAs working under the supervision of a physician. PAs should obtain their own National Provider Identification number for Medicare billing.

What’s more, all 50 states cover medical services provided by PAs under their Medicaid fee-for-service or managed care programs. The rate of reimbursement, which is paid to the PA’s employer, is the same or slightly lower than that paid to physicians.

So if you need to fill the PCP gap to grow your practice, consider hiring a PA to complement your services.


  1. American Academy of Physician Assistants. The PA profession. http://www.aapa.org/the_pa_profession.aspx.
  2. American Academy of Physician Assistants. What is a PA? http://www.aapa.org/the_pa_profession/what_is_a_pa.aspx.
  3. Modern Medicine. Physician shortage to quadruple. http://www.modernmedicine.com/modernmedicine/Modern+Medicine+Now/Physician-shortage-to-quadruple/ArticleStandard/Article/detail/697162.
  4. Rosenberg SM, Rosenthal DA, Rajan DK, et al. Position statement: the role of physician assistants in interventional radiology. J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2008;19(12):1685-1689.