Jul-Aug 2014 Table of Contents


The Shifting Role of the Primary Care Physician

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“A physician is obligated to consider more than a diseased organ, more even than the whole man – he must view the man in his world.” — Dr. Harvey Cushing

Fam Pract Manag. 2014 Jul-Aug;21(4):36.

Author disclosure: no relevant financial affiliations disclosed.

The growing patient population, innumerable regulations, and intense financial and time pressures have compounded the challenges of primary care practice. To distribute the workload and achieve efficiencies, many practices are expanding the role of allied health professionals such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants or creating new roles, such as health education specialists.1

Although these team members certainly have a role in the evolving model of primary care, let's be candid: As a physician, it is unsettling to watch fundamental patient care tasks progressively being handed to others who may lack extensive medical training.

About the Author

Dr. Weinstein practices in Bayside, N.Y., and periodically at Women's and Children's Hospital, Adelaide, Australia.

1. Chambliss ML, Lineberry S, Evans WM, Bibeau DL. Adding health education specialists to your practice. Fam Prac Manag. 2014;21(2):10–15.

2. Epstein RM, Franks P, Shields CG, et al. Patient-centered communication and diagnostic testing. Ann Fam Med.2005;3(5):415–421.

3. Fiscella K, Meldrum S, Franks P, et al. Patient trust: is it related to patient-centered behavior of primary care physicians? Med Care. 2004;42(11):1049–1055.


The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of FPM or our publisher, the American Academy of Family Physicians. We encourage you to share your views. Send comments to fpmedit@aafp.org, or add your comments below.

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