Midland health bosses are creating a raft of new roles to provide assistance to underpressure GPs in the region.
The Birmingham and Black Country Strategic Health Authority is set to spend between £ 600,000 and £900,000 on training medical care practitioners, similar to US physician assistants.
Initially ten to 15 graduates, with biomedical or science degrees, will undertake a two-year course at a West Midlands university.
The SHA has also announced plans to train anaesthetic practitioners, who would help consultant anaesthetists in overseeing operations, following a scheme piloted by the Heart of Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust. Andrew Snowden, the strategic health authority's director of workforce development, said a range of new roles were being created to help reduce costs and to cope with specific skills shortages.
He said: "Researchers at Birmingham University are doing a study with a team of physicians' assistants from America, to see how patients view them.
"Their role would be primarily diagnostic and they would be able to refer patients back to their doctor. The Royal Colleges are still discussing what responsibilities they would have, whether they could prescribe drugs or perform minor operations.
The introduction of medical care practitioners is being resisted by GPs, who claim this will lead to "GPs on the cheap". But Mr Snowden says it is to supplement the workforce rather than replace it.