Nurse practitioners vs Doctors: The Same Old Story

Recently, there has been a flurry of blog entries on the role of nurse practitioners (NP) in healthcare.  The American Academy of Family Practitioners (AAFP), came out very strongly against nurse practitioners as being designated as primary care providers.  The argument is NPs don’t have the same amount of schooling as doctors and don’t understand the medical science like doctors.  The conclusion is that even though the research shows the outcomes for care in the primary care setting are equal, nurse practitioners provide the services and tests without understanding why.

So let me get this straight.  When I order an x ray to assess for a fracture, I only do it because I once saw a doctor do it?  And when I get the films back, I don’t really know what I am looking at or what part of the body it is?  Um, silly me.  So can I apply this logic to doctors?  How many doctors can accurately describe the physics and electronic engineering of an MRI or PET scan?  Well, if you can’t then why are you ordering it?  Did you see another doctor do it?

I am so annoyed by this ridiculous stance that seeing an NP can put your health at risk.  That is what is implied by this argument that if you want the best care, then see a doctor.  It is insulting and questions the integrity of the work that many NPs do each day in rural areas were no family  doctors will  practice.  Do you really think we are all wanna be doctors who couldn’t get into medical school because we were too stupid?

Another argument is that NPs just simply don’t have the years of experience or knowledge base to provide care.  Even if the NP graduate schools changed the curriculum, increased clinical training hours and provided an increased time of internship, I don’t think the AAFP would be satisfied. And by the way, I agree, NP training needs an overhaul.

I am tired of hearing it.  What is the AAFP hoping will happen?  Rid the world of the blight of NPs.  I don’t think so.  So the battle will continue for no reason, like the 100 Year War.  What is this battle really about?  Can it really be about quality healthcare?  Or is it about healthcare dollars and territory?

I am begging you, please stop.  Stop acting like school yard bullies and polarizing patients.  It is unhealthy.