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CDC: SD doctors utilize physicians assistants, nurse practitioners more than any other state

Doctors work with physician assistants and nurse practitioners in South Dakota at the highest rate in the nation, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study.

Across the Northern Plains, a substantially higher percentage of primary care doctors work with paraprofessional colleagues to provide primary health care to their patients.

According to the CDC study, 89.6 percent of primary care physicians in South Dakota work with a physician assistant or nurse practitioner. In contrast, only 33.4 percent of the same types of doctors work with paraprofessionals in the District of Columbia.

The CDC correlates that the more rural the area, the fewer primary care physicians there are per capita, so patients and their doctors are more dependent on nurse practitioners and physician assistants to help provide care.

The CDC found both Dakotas had 41.2 primary care physicians per 100,000 populations in 2012, the lowest ratio in the region. Minnesota had the best ratio in the Northern Plains at 56.6 physicians per 100,000 residents. Montana was at 41.6, Wyoming at 42.7, Iowa at 44.6 and Nebraska 45.7.

The percentages of primary care physicians utilizing nurse practitioners and physician assistants in the Northern Plains were: South Dakota, 89.6 percent; Montana, 89.1 percent; Minnesota, 84.4 percent; North Dakota, 80.7 percent; Iowa, 74.3 percent; Wyoming, 77.3 percent; and Nebraska, 73.6 percent.