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The Boston Globe

Health & wellness

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New cost-control law expands role of physician assistants

Comparing training for physician assistants, nurse practitioners, doctors

A stay-at-home mom for 10 years, Martha Tuff wanted a career in medicine. But at 38 and raising four boys, she decided the decade-long preparation to become a doctor “would be too much for me.’’ So she enrolled in a two-year master’s degree program to become a physician assistant. She will be ready to care for patients by next fall.

Under the state’s new health care cost-control law, legislators are counting on physician assistants like Tuff as critical partners in the effort to curb medical spending, improve the coordination of treatment, and give patients easier access to basic care amid a shortage of primary care doctors.

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