Not Your Usual Primary Care Provider

Physician shortages are being disproportionately felt in primary care, as fewer physicians practice office-based primary care and as more NPs and PAs work in specialty practices. Who will provide direst access care, how will they be trained and what will they be able to do?

The Academic Consortium for Alternative and Complementary Health Care has published a report on the current and prospective roles of doctors of chiropractic, naturopathic physicians, doctors and practitioners of acupuncture and Oriental medicine and direct-entry midwives in meeting nation’s primary care needs. In aggregate, there are about 100,000 practitioners in these fields (see below), most in chiropractic.AACCAHC

This new report, “Meeting the Nations Primary Care Needs,” offers an opportunity to learn what these professions are doing and to assess the extent to which they could participate in meeting some of the unmet needs in primary care. It is the best compendium of thoughtful analysis on these disciplines that currently exists. Are the authors correct? Is this a way to meet the nation’s needs? Comments from readers of this blog will be welcomed! 


  1. Taylor Walsh

    The authors of this report take great care to describe the credentials, historic maturation and growing acceptability of the therapies and health approaches of these disciplines. Most important in my view are the three factors that most recommend the addition of such skills in primary care: one, they are already in use by many hundreds of thousands of Americans for primary care services; two, health care consumers themselves have chosen to use (and to pay for) them in the first place; third, practitioners in these disciplines are also markedly focused on improving individual lifestyles and establishing habits for prevention.

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