In the state of Arkansas, there is a lack of primary care providers for the number of Arkansas residents.
The need for medical care in underserved areas is increasing with this continued physician shortage. In 2013 only about 10 percent of physicians practice in rural areas nationally, where approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population lives according to the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA). Access to medical care for patients is a major concern in many rural areas, not only due to physician shortages but also transportation and financial constraints. However, about 17 percent of practicing PAs are working in those underserved areas currently (AAPA, 2013).
As the shortage for primary care physicians continue, physician assistants can assist in filling the gap in patient care in the state. Currently, according to the AAPA, there are approximately 229 practicing physician assistants in the state of Arkansas as reported by the medical board.
The AAPA ranked Arkansas as 49th out of 50 states for the number of practicing PAs per capita in 2013.
According to Dr. Daniel Rahn, Chancellor of University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the primary care physician shortage is a major concern for the state of Arkansas and for the health care of patients in rurally underserved areas across the state. UAMS is attempting to assist by developing more family medicine residency programs and starting a new physician assistant program.
“There is obviously a physician shortage, so if there are not enough physicians to see the rural patients, PAs can assist in filling the gap.”
Alissa Huberty, North Little Rock, AR