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The issue of physician shortages is being exacerbated by an aging population and increased access to health insurance. (Photo: Shutterstock)

A new study confirms what many patients have experienced in recent years: a visit to the doctor’s office doesn’t always mean seeing a physician.

Office visits where nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) were the main health care provider increased 129 percent between the years of 2012 and 2016, the study found. At the same time, patient visits to physicians in primary care setting decreased 18 percent.

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