What Are the Possible Impacts of Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants on Future Provision of Primary Care in Rural Areas?

Research center:
Lead researcher:
Project funded:
September 2013
Project completed:
March 2016

This WWAMI RHRC study will explore how many nurse practitioners (NPs), physician assistants (PAs) and physicians will be required to meet rural health care demand resulting from expanded access to health insurance through implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The study will also describe the ACA's impact on types of primary care services that would be available under different provider mix scenarios. The study's analyses will use simulated rural primary care demand data and rural primary care NP, PA and physician productivity data from recent research by the WWAMI RHRC.


  • How Could Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants Be Deployed to Provide Rural Primary Care?
    Policy Brief
    WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 03/2016
    New (2014) rural enrollees in the insurance plans on federal and state exchanges are expected to generate about 1.39 million primary care visits per year. At a national level, it would require 345 full-time equivalent physicians to provide those visits. This study examines how different mixes of physicians, PAs, and NPs might meet the increase.