What Does 'Nurse Practitioner' Mean?
In states across the country, nurse practitioners are
introducing legislation to remove “barriers to practice.” As NPs we all agree this is a great idea,
but like any political endeavor its success or failure will depend on our
ability to convince others that this is indeed a good thing. Yes, eventually it all comes down to
No bill has ever passed without public support and no bill
has ever been introduced that doesn’t have opposition. No matter how worthy we as advanced practice
clinicians feel our cause to be there are those out there that are going to
argue otherwise. To be successful, we
need more than APRN support; we must also have the support of both the public
and all other providers, including physicians.
You will quickly discover that before you can talk about our
“barriers” with folks you will be asked first to define a nurse
practitioner. We tend to forget that
unless you are an NP or a first degree relative of an NP you are unlikely to be
able to define the practice of an NP. You might be surprised to find this even includes patients who have seen
NPs for their healthcare. In fact, I
will take that one step further; most Americans would be hard pressed to define
an RN in “scope of practice” terms. If
you don’t believe me, find someone outside the medical profession (like most
legislators) and try to explain to them why we shouldn’t need a collaborative
agreement. (Lay people tend to believe
that the doctor supervises everyone in a clinic!)
So what do YOU say when asked what an NP is? I have heard NPs say “Well, I can diagnose,
treat and prescribe, so basically I can do about 80% of what a doctor can
do.” Then we throw in the ever-popular assertion that we cost
less so we will save “the system” money. Ouch, did we really just announce that we are a discounted version of
traditional healthcare? Almost sounds
too good to be true …
But we don’t stop there. “Studies show that we spend more time with patients
so they like us better!” Gosh, I don’t
know why MDs would find this threatening …
Let me suggest these are statements that neither appeal to
the public nor win support from the physician community. We should be more careful when we describe ourselves and
avoid statements that put us at war with our physician colleagues or make us sound
like we belong in the healthcare sale bin.
Remember, physicians not only vote - they lobby.
Write your NP definition on my Facebook wall www.Facebook.com/NPCareerCoach
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