Of Kentucky’s 120 counties, 55 are designated a “health professional shortage areas” (HPSAs) by the Federal government. These counties suffer from an insufficient capacity of existing primary care physicians and/or an unusually high need for primary care services. (For a complete definition of HPSA, visit this link.) This shortage is leading non-physicians, such as nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, and optometrists to vie for traditionally physician-only privileges. In other words, non-physicians who have traditionally needed the supervision of a physician to practice are looking for ways to do their jobs more independently, causing friction between physician and non-physician groups. In April of this year, Gov. Steve Beshear made Kentucky the state the 17th to opt out of the federal physician supervision requirement for nurse anesthetists. Kentucky nurse practitioners are also working to reduce restrictions on their ability to prescribe medications, so that nurse practitioner-only offices can help fill the gap in the state’s primary care needs. Additionally, optometrists recently gained approval to perform certain procedures previously only performed by ophthalmologists. The changing landscape of health care is likely to continue to impact the responsibilities of health care professionals. Read the full Courier-Journal article.