Talking to Reporters
A nice article about nurse practitioners showed up in the New York City edition of yesterday's New York Times
. Although titled "Yes, the P.A. Will See You Now
," the article looks at both physician assistant and NP roles, and it does a good job covering education, salary and job experience.
The reporter does once refer to NPs and PAs as "midlevel" health care providers, putting the word in quotation marks. I wonder where mainstream reporters get that language. From other news stories, from the NPs they interview or from the other health care providers they interview?
I suspect that in this case, the language came from physicians who, it seems, made a big deal about NPs and PAs being addressed as "doctor." I thought the reporter did a good job defusing that bomb:
[Rachel Lyons] also introduces herself as "Dr. Lyons"; doctors of nursing practice can use the title, though they must also introduce themselves as nurse practitioners. "I’ve worked hard to obtain this degree and I make no false pretenses about who I am," she said. "I’ve earned it."
Some physicians voice concern at use of the doctor title. "It may cause patient confusion and misunderstandings," said Jim King, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
But nurse practitioners say they are clear about describing their role — as are physician assistants, who don’t use the title "doctor" but are often mistaken for physicians.
"Because I’m wearing a white coat or scrubs, patients call me ‘doctor’ and I have to correct them," Mr. Kelly said. "It’s a great opportunity to educate them about my role."
Just a tip for those NPs who give interviews: If you don't like the term "midlevel," you must explain to the reporter that the language is controversial and certainly not preferred by NPs. Reporters can only report what you tell them!
By the way, that's the only quote from a physician in the article, which is appropriate in a story about NPs and PAs.