Empowering NPs & PAs
This is really hard for me to say but here it goes: we should thank the ladies of "The View." In an ironic twist of fate that snarky remark insulting the Miss America with her "doctor's stethoscope" has unintentionally done more to advance the image of nursing profession than the pageant contestant they were mocking. Not only did the entire nursing community rise up to set the record straight but a good chunk of the public joined in to support us. My Facebook feed has been full of some really great nursing memes this past week - I guess I can thank them for that too!
So after we get past our outrage we need to examine why after all these years does the perception persist that physicians own healthcare? As nurse practitioners and physician assistants we have been fighting this bias for a long time. We have protested "see your doctor" and "consult a physician" messages in advertising and even made some progress but every day I still hear folks - even nurses - universally default to the term "doctor" when they really mean healthcare provider. (And yes, I know that NPs can be called Dr. too, so don't send me letters!)
Believe it or not, I was actually thinking about this subject a few days before "The View" controversy erupted. I happened to be reading a popular healthcare forum on the topic of teaching. This is a forum that includes physicians, NPs and PAs. I was taken aback at the number of physicians who said they wanted to teach in our NP or PA programs. Now maybe they meant well but it felt to me that the unspoken implication was that NPs and PAs needed to have some physician instruction if we expected to be doing a physician's job.
Attention: we are not the Diet Coke of healthcare! We aren't the generic cheaper substitute for the Brand name product. I don't know how much clearer we as a profession can be about the fact that we are not trying to be mini physicians. Perhaps they missed the last several decades and did not notice that we are separate professions with our own body of knowledge and our own culture. Just because we do some of the same things and our professions intersect at times doesn't make us the "lite" version of an MD.
And we have our own educators. There are plenty of talented folks in our own professions to be our teachers and our role models. I suggest that if MDs want to "help" us they can start by acknowledging us for what we are and stop talking about what we aren't.