Will You See an Actual Doctor the Next Time You Go to the Doctor?
It used to be so simple: You made an appointment with a doctor
and would almost certainly see an M.D., someone who spent four years in medical school and then had at least three years of additional training, usually in a hospital
But today you're likely to encounter a veritable alphabet soup of healthcare degrees: D.O., P.A., N.P., R.N., and N.D., to name a few. Who are all these people? What training do they have? Which one is best for you? And where's your good old M.D., anyway? (See our guide to healthcare providers
The truth is, you may not always need a traditional physician-and may have a difficult time finding one. The U.S. is short on doctors, especially those practicing primary care, who typically earn less than specialists. We now have fewer primary care physicians per person than many other developed nations
. Canada, for example, has 1.2 per 1,000 people; the U.S., just 0.3.