- A bill pending governor signature in Missouri would create an "assistant physician" designation for medical school graduates who have passed licensing exams but have not completed residency training.
- Assistant physicians would be permitted to deliver primary care and prescribe medications in rural or urban areas considered to be "medically underserved." The legislation requires that new assistant physicians be overseen by another physician, who must be physically present for the first month that they see patients.
- Governor Jay Nixon has not indicated if he will sign the legislation.
The legislation is an effort to address the primary care physician shortage by creating an incentive for recent medical school graduates to remain in Missouri, or come to the state from elsewhere.
"Missouri truly has an opportunity to be a trailblazer on this type of licensure and solving the healthcare access problem," Jeffrey Howell, an attorney and lobbyist for the Missouri State Medical Association, said.
There has been some pushback from education groups, who believe that recent graduates will be unprepared for that level of autonomy; as well as the Missouri Academy of Physician Assistants, who say that the new title could confuse patients.