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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Nurse Practitioners to the Rescue

Given our current focus on health care reform, now is the perfect time to reintroduce you to Nurse Practitioners. We've been hearing the panic out there right? The panic that there won't be enough doctors to take care of us! CNN reported today that the Family doctor is "an endangered breed." CNN said that in the past 10 years most medical school graduates picked higher-paid specialities like orthopedics or dermatology, and only 10% chose primary care. CNN barely mentioned that Nurse Practitioners provide primary care. All CNN said at the end of the article was..."should nurse practitioners fill in the gaps?" What it's really about is educating the public about Nurse Practitioners and what we do. OK, there's more to it than that. Nurse Practitioners are forever butting heads with the AMA (American Medical Association). The AMA and MD lobbyists are constantly trying to manipulate policy makers into believing that MDs should somehow supervise Nurse Practitioners. The AMA is afraid that NPs will "take over." So here's what a Nurse Practitioner is: a registered nurse with a master's degree and licensed to diagnose and manage illness and disease and to prescribe medications. We can care for you and we can cure you. The regulations differ from state to state. But I practice in Connecticut and I have a license, I am board certified, and I can prescribe medications. Unfortunately, I am forced to "collaborate" with an MD. In other words, the AMA and MD lobbyists have used their powers to convince government and policy makers that Nurse Practitioners "need supervision." We do not need MD supervision. And some of it is outright extortion! In order to practice in Connecticut, we have to have an agreement with an MD, and in most cases, that MD charges us a ridiculous fee just to list them as our "collaborator" on the agreement. Some Nurse Practitioners have to pay MDs hundreds of dollars a month just to use their name on the state-required agreement! As a Nurse Practitioner, I give you a full physical exam, I do a complete history and review of your body systems, I listen to your concerns, I order lab tests, xrays, ultrasounds, whatever tests you need, I prescribe medications for you, and here is the important part...if I find something wrong with you that is more than I can help you with, I am trained to identify it and refer you to the correct specialist. In other words, we are trained to realize what is "out of our scope of practice." I don't need to ask a doctor what I should do for you. I know what to do for you. And if I don't know what to do for you, I make sure I get you to the right specialist who does know what to do for you. So go visit a Nurse Practitioner for you care! And to all the NPs out there, let's keep the fight alive in the government, let's keep fighting for our independence...we work side-by-side with doctors, not beneath them!


Anonymous said...

wow, I had no idea how accomplished one must be to certify in this field. What's the difference between an NP and a PA?