The numbers of nurse practitioners and physician assistants are increasing throughout the entire health care enterprise, and a similar expansion continues within radiology. Some practices have instead embraced radiologist assistants. The increased volume of services rendered by this growing nonphysician provider subset of the health care workforce within and outside of radiology departments warrants closer review. The authors evaluate the recent literature and offer recommendations to radiology practices regarding both regulatory and scope-of-practice issues related to these professionals. Additionally, billing and compliance issues for care provided by nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and radiologist assistants are detailed. An analysis of the integration of these professionals into interventional and diagnostic radiology practices, as well as potential implications for medical education, is provided in the second part of this series.
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