What Is an "Assistant Physician"? Missouri State Law Just Created It

July 16, 2014

A controversial new law in the state would permit medical school graduates, without additional training, to provide primary care in medically underserved areas of the state, supervised at first, and then on their own. Your thoughts?

A new law signed last week by Missouri governor Jay Nixon creates a new class of medical practitioners called “assistant physicians.” Qualification for the position requires graduation from medical school. Period. The objective behind the law, which is drawing strong criticism from organized medicine, is to increase the number of healthcare providers available to treat patients in underserved primary care settings.

An assistant physician can only dispense primary care services and will only be permitted to do so in medically underserved rural or urban areas in Missouri or in pilot project areas. The clinician would be supervised onsite by a “collaborative physician” for 30 days, then be able to treat patients unsupervised in settings up to 50 miles away. They will be able to prescribe Schedule III, IV, and V drugs.

Opinions are strong on both sides and you can read more, here. But first, please let us know what you think about the assitant physician concept and the thinking behind it by leaving us a comment below. We will compile the replies and report back in another article.

Thank you.