It’s a problem I have heard before – fear over using a mid-level provider.
What is a mid-level provider?
You probably know the answer, even if you have not heard the term. It is a health care professional who provides care under the supervision of a physician. Examples of medical mid-level providers include:
- Physician assistant (PA)
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
- Nurse practitioners (NP)
The latest buzz is over mid-level providers in the dental industry – the Registered Dental Practitioner (RDP).
The Problem – Supply and Demand
As the story in Kaiser Health News explains, there is a shortage of dentists, particularly in rural areas. The shortage of providers crosses all specialties of health care.
- The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates a shortage of 150,000 doctors in the next 15 years
- A RAND Corporation survey reported 54 percent of states have anesthesiologist shortages
- A study sponsored by Delta Dental Plans predicts the U.S. will run short of dentists by 2012
The shortage arrives with the aging of the baby boomers when the demand for care typically increases.
Having been a registered dental hygienist (RDH) in a former life, this story struck a chord. When I was in practice, RDHs worked under the supervision of a dentist.
- The dentist checked our patients after the appointment
- If the dentist did not work (e.g., vacation, sick days), we could not work
I practiced a very long time ago, but at the time. there was a great deal of resistance to dental hygienists.
- Resistance from patients who didn’t want to be seen by an “assistant”
- Resistance from dentists when hygienists campaigned for independence
The newest mid-level provider, the Registered Dental Practitioner (RDP), has been proposed by some states to fill the shortages of dentists. The RDP would have more training than a hygienist, but less than a dentist.
Their responsibilities primarily involve basic restorations (fillings) and extractions.
The resistance and fear is the usual one associated with mid-level providers – do they have adequate training and skills for providing quality care.
What do you think?
Are you opposed to mid-level providers?
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Notice of Disclaimer –Cathy Miller is not an attorney and cannot provide legal advice. The information provided is for your general background only, and is not intended to constitute legal advice as to your specific circumstances. We recommend you review legislation with legal counsel.