Midlevel Providers

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How Nurses and Other ‘Mid-Level Providers’ Fill Growing Gap in Primary Care

By Jose Martinez, KPCC

(Keith Brofsky/Getty Images)

(Keith Brofsky/Getty Images)

Simmi Gandhi — a family nurse practitioner at South LA’s UMMA Community Clinic — is at work early. When she calls a patient, she apologizes for waking the woman up. But she knew the woman was waiting for test results.

In Urdu, she tells the patient her mammogram shows the mass in the woman’s breast isn’t cancer. After Gandhi hangs up, she doesn’t miss a beat: She starts debriefing for her next patient, who’s been missing appointment for months.

“Looks like he has diabetes,” she says. “I had asked for him to be able to get an appointment six weeks thereafter, so that was back in September. That was cancelled, and then he didn’t come for two appointments that were rescheduled. And now he’s finally back.”

Simmi Gandhi is what’s called a midlevel provider — which includes registered nurses, physician assistants and nurse practitioners. These are medical professionals who are in-between physicians and lower skilled medical technicians and nurses. At the UMMA clinic, she provides a wide range of primary care people in need.

“A community like this has less resources,” she says. “A lot of the folks that live here have less education as I’m sure everybody’s aware, our educational system is stressed so the basic education people get around their bodies … is low.” Continue reading