Patients who see a nurse practitioner (NP) or physician assistant (PA) in community health centers receive comparable care to that of a physician, a new study has found.
The first-of-its-kind study, published in the journal Medical Care, looked at the quality of care provided by physicians and nonphysician clinicians in community health centers and found patients receive equivalent care based on health outcomes.
The study was conducted by researchers from George Washington University. “Findings from our study should be reassuring to patients who rely on community health centers for their care,” lead author Ellen Kurtzman, an associate professor in the university’s School of Nursing, said in a study announcement. “We found that care is likely to be comparable regardless of whether patients are seen by a nurse practitioner, physician assistant or physician.”
The study is the first to compare care in community health centers, which particularly serve patients in medically underserved areas who tend to be low-income, uninsured, immigrant and minority populations. Those centers often rely on nonphysicians to provide primary care.