Patients generally prefer physicians to nurse practitioners (NP) or physicians assistants (PA) assuming a visit to either costs the same. However, what happens when one takes into account waiting times? A paper by Dill et al. (2013) reveals the following:
Respondents were given a choice between seeing a physician assistant or nurse practitioner today or a physician tomorrow for a worsening cough. Nearly 60 percent preferred the physician assistant or nurse practitioner today, with only 25 percent preferring to wait a day to see a physician.
As patients interact more frequently with NPs and PAs, their popularity is only likely to grow.
Those with recent exposure to a physician assistant or nurse practitioner were more likely to want to see one again than to wait a day for the physician. Those who had never seen one showed a slight preference for waiting for the physician visit, 43.0 percent, compared to 39.5 percent who preferred a physician assistant or nurse practitioner.
Medicare beneficiaries, paticularly those with Medigap, are least likely to have seen a PA or NP. Unsurprisingly, Medicaid beneificiaries are most likely to visit an NP or PA.
- Michael J. Dill, Stacie Pankow, Clese Erikson, and Scott Shipman. Survey Shows Consumers Open To A Greater Role For Physician Assistants And Nurse Practitioners. Health Affairs June 2013 vol. 32 no. 6 1135-1142. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2012.1150.