Date of Award

Fall 1-8-2016

Degree Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Kim Ramsey-White

Second Advisor

Sylvia Caley

Abstract

By the year 2025, the United States is predicted to face a shortage of between 46,000 - 90,000 physicians. Of specific concern are primary care physicians. With the rising costs of education, earning potential for those in specialty care, and the lack of interest in rural communities, it is no surprise that many physicians are foregoing the primary care route. As a result, rural areas are suffering, many operating without a healthcare facility or provider nearby. Individuals that reside within these communities often have poor health outcomes and are of lower socioeconomic status. In Georgia, there are several counties that are without do not have access to sufficient healthcare services. Many rural Georgians are forced to travel to neighboring counties to receive care. This poses a serious public health concern for many residents, public health officials, and policymakers throughout the state. The Georgia legislature has attempted to enact legislation that would address the effects of the physician shortage crisis for rural Georgians. Georgia is not the only state dealing with this issue and in response to the crisis many states have sought to expand the scope of practice for nurse practitioners and physician assistants. By providing nurse practitioners and physician assistants with greater autonomy such as prescriptive authority or the ability to diagnose and treat without physician supervision, states are likely to see greater access to care for those in rural communities, where there is a greater likelihood of nurse practitioner and physician assistants being in service. This paper will assess the effects of physician shortages in Georgia and offer suggestions on how to alleviate some of the burdens associated with this problem.

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