Gretchen Preneta: To fill provider shortage, Maine needs physician assistants

Gretchen Preneta

Assistant Clinical Professor Gretchen Preneta, M.S.P.A. '10, PA-C, penned an op-ed for the Portland Press Herald about the role physician assistants can play in addressing Maine’s impending shortage of health care providers.

Preneta, who teaches in the University of New England Physician Assistant Program and serves as president of the Maine Association of Physician Assistants (MEAPA), states that according to the Robert Graham Center, Maine will need 120 additional primary care physicians by 2030, largely because of Maine’s aging population and rising rates of uninsured patients.

“Physician assistants are medical professionals who diagnose illness, develop and manage treatment plans, prescribe medication and often serve as a patient’s principal health care provider,” she writes. “They practice in every state and in every medical setting and specialty. There are 123,000 physician assistants in the U.S., and close to 900 physician assistants practice in Maine.”

Preneta argues, however, that Maine’s laws need to change in order for physician assistants to provide much needed care, especially in rural areas. “Now is the time for change. Simplifying, standardizing and modernizing physician assistant practice authority in Maine will increase the number of physician assistants in the state, and help us to close the gap created by the provider shortage.”

Read the article.