Puerto Rico continues to suffer from a shortage of medical professionals. Healthcare has been underfunded in Puerto Rico for many decades, and doctors practicing on the Island can work under better conditions and earn more by moving to a state. There are currently about 5,710 physicians in Puerto Rico, which works out to 1.75 doctors per 1,000 inhabitants, according to WorldData. This compares with 2 doctors per 1,000 residents in the US as a whole, which is still only about half the availability in countries in the EU.

One potential solution is to make it easier for Physician Assistants to practice in Puerto Rico. Physician Assistants are board certified medical professionals; the specialty has been established since 1968. Board certification requires continuing education and regular recertification.

The San Juan Bautista Medical School PA Program in Caguas was established in 2020. Graduates become Board Certified by passing the NCCPA (PANCE) examination upon graduation.

Ley 71

Ley 71, passed in 2017, allowed PAs to practice in Puerto Rico, but not to prescribe medications. The law also made it possible for people who received an MD degree but were not board certified as PAs to work as PAs.

The Academia de Asociados Médicos de Puerto Rico (AAMPR) and Physician Associates for Latino Health (PALH) are working to pass a law which will clarify the position of PA in Puerto Rico, and which will allow board certified PAs to practice at the same level allowed in all 50 states.

They plan a conference in Carolina on August 19, 2022, to explain the need for this legal change.

Healthcare in Puerto Rico

It is ironic that Puerto Rico, which exports more pharmaceuticals than any of the states, continue to have challenges and limitations in healthcare. While many of the problems come from the unequal funding Puerto Rico receives as a territory, there are also legal and logistical obstacles.

Statehood would solve these problems by ensuring equal rights and responsibilities for Puerto Rico in healthcare as in other areas.



4 Responses

  1. This moral travesty & bureaucratization/politicization of the Puerto Rican healthcare system by the Collegio de Cirujanos the Puerto Rico must end and be completely reformed.

    Physician Assistants have over half a century of improving access to quality medical care even outside the USA. Nothing would restore the tenuous infrastructure in existence on the island today like the legal allowance/implementation of Physician Associates/Assistants to practice to their full scope of practice. The Puerto Rican policy stakeholders owe that to the Puerto Rican patient community.

    The time is now, is time to put partisan politics aside and end this myopic monopoly by the medical establishment in Puerto Rico which only seeks to protect its own interests.

  2. Dear Sir, or Madam,
    I am a practicing PA, in Florida & would like to revalidate my credentials to be able to practice there.
    I have written several times to the PR Department of Health to no avail.
    Would you be so kind to please let me know how should I proceed to be able to practice in PR?
    I appreciate your attention on this matter.
    Roberto A Nicodemo, dm, mph, pa

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