A friend in a rural area of the South told me about her co-worker who was seeking mental health treatment for apparent depression. There is a dearth of psychiatrists in this small town, neither of which is taking new patients. There are a few NPs in free-standing clinics (if that is the correct term).
She ended up having to go to a state-run drug treatment center, filled out masses of paperwork (income verification, SS card for citizenship status, insurance card, etc.). She said it was like walking into a homeless shelter; this person has always been employed and had access to private physician practices.
Anyway, after a four-week wait for an appointment, she saw a very nice intake counselor, who referred her to the NP. She was very pleased (3 weeks later, when she got the appointment) to see the NP, who diagnosed her and prescribed, and thankfully she is feeling much better.
Sadder than the population of this clinic is that the NP said he was an MD in Afghanistan, passed the US certification for foreign medical school graduates, but could not get a residency.
So he works a few days a week in this small town as a NP, works one day a week as a PA at a pain clinic in the nearest large city, and works two days a week as a PA at the psych center of a county jail.
What is my point?! I am still processing this. I know rural health care is hurting terribly for providers, thankful that my friend has found a provider.
But how does a foreign medical grad become a PA and an NP? Just very curious, and happy that she has someone she trusts and who will take care of her.