"Frontier Areas," Medical Care Roles

The AAFP supports the concept of the designation of frontier areas (defined as counties with six or fewer people per square mile) as a means of recognizing unique problems and encouraging innovative approaches to health care delivery.

The AAFP further recognizes the unique skills and training requirements for competent frontier practice, and encourages ongoing development of appropriate training programs to produce competent frontier physicians.

Furthermore, the AAFP realizes the critical role of the practicing frontier family physician delivering appropriate emergency and primary health care services to frontier communities, and supports innovative solutions to providing accessible, affordable care in these areas.

The AAFP strongly supports the inclusion of physician representation in further development by the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) and other solutions and strategies for better health care in frontier areas.

The AAFP cautions that care should be taken in broadening the role of non-physician providers under state licensure when addressing the special health care needs of frontier areas. Midlevel practitioners should work only under the direction and responsible supervision of a practicing licensed family physician with skills and training in frontier medicine. Nonetheless, these communities are best served by family physicians with such skills and training.

(1986) (2009 COD)