Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science

Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science


Laura Witte, PhD


Purpose: The purpose of this article is to review current utilization of advanced practice providers in rural health and examine the best practices.

Method: A PubMed literature search was conducted using the key terms rural health, physician assistant, advanced practice provider, utilization and optimization. After review, sixteen articles were determined relevant and analyzed in the evaluation of this topic.

Results: Identified evidence in the medical literature demonstrates utilization of advanced practice providers (APP), including physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs), offers cost effective health care delivery without compromising outcomes. Strategic planning is required to implement best practices for recruitment and retention in rural communities.

Conclusion: Rural health disparities negatively impact individual and population health with increased morbidity and mortality. While multiple social determinants of health contribute, health care access is a major limiting factor. APPs are broadly utilized to provide health care services in rural areas, but strategic planning is needed to improve health care delivery and improve population health. Current medical literature confirms physician assistants and nurse practitioners are skilled to adequately deliver health care to these communities, but further research is needed to identify specific factors which impact productivity and effectiveness in various practice models and specialties.


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