Nationwide doctor shortage

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Need to see a doctor? It could be a while, 29 days on average for a new patient to see a family-medicine physician, compared with 19 and a half days in 2014. (KFSN)

Need to see a doctor? It could be a while, 29 days on average for a new patient to see a family medicine physician, compared with 19 and a half days in 2014.

Part of the problem is a shortage of primary care physicians in the United States compared to other developed nations and patients are feeling the crunch.

To help fill the bench, many practices are now taking a team approach to healthcare.

Healthcare professionals say the end result is greater access to care. Primary care doctors are swamped, especially during a busy flu season, but if a patient is willing to see a PA, that's a physician assistant, or an NP, a nurse practitioner.

Even though they don't have as much training, Consumer Reports says in many cases it's fine to see an NP or PA for routine matters. However, there are circumstances when you might want to ask to see a physician.

On the whole, the team-based approach is growing. More than 60% of physicians now work alongside advanced practice providers and Dr. Meixler fully expects the trend to continue.

And if you are considering a practice that uses an array of healthcare providers, make sure you check with your insurance company that all of the professionals in that practice are in-network and their services are all covered.
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