No difference in care between PAs, NPs, physicians in community health centers

A first-of-its-kind study examining patient health outcomes in community health centers found that PAs and nurse practitioners (NPs) delivered similar quality of care, services, and referrals as those made by physicians. Recently published in the journal Medical Care, the study could have implications for the structure of community health centers in the future.

Researchers at The George Washington University School of Nursing reviewed five years of data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey’s Community Health Center subsample and compared nine patient outcomes by practitioner type.

“Findings from our study should be reassuring to patients who rely on community health centers for their care,” said Ellen Kurtzman, associate professor in the GW School of Nursing and lead author of the paper. “We found that care is likely to be comparable regardless of whether patients are seen by a nurse practitioner, [PA] or physician.”