The whole truth …

Modern Healthcare - - Opinions Letters -

On be­half of the physi­cian as­sis­tant and nurse prac­ti­tioner pro­fes­sions, I and many of my col­leagues wish to ex­tend our grat­i­tude for hav­ing the for­ti­tude to print the truth (“Let nurse prac­ti­tion­ers, doc as­sis­tants pro­vide pri­mary care, panel urges,” Mod­ern Health­, March 4).

Most of the prob­lems for which pa­tients present to health­care pro­fes­sion­als do not need a “Moses who can part the Red Sea.” Most prob­lems are fairly sim­i­lar, some­times ba­sic, re­quire knowl­edge of a dif­fer­en­tial di­ag­no­sis and the acu­men to know when the pa­tient needs to be re­ferred to a spe­cial­ist. This is why it is of­ten touted that nurse prac­ti­tion­ers and physi­cian as­sis­tants can do 85% of what a physi­cian does, be­cause it is the truth.

The ed­u­ca­tion is very sim­i­lar, and the dif­fer­ence lies in a res­i­dency. That res­i­dency is not to be un­der­es­ti­mated but is pro­vided on a for­mula of years work­ing in a spe­cific area where one has the op­por­tu­nity to see all of the red her­rings and ze­bras.

We work well with physi­cians but cer­tainly do not need their over­sight for so many of the pre­sent­ing symp­toms that walk through the doors of emer­gency rooms and clin­ics everyday, and in do­ing so, add to higher costs and poor at­ti­tudes on be­half of pa­tients and care­givers. No pa­tient needs to or should feel den­i­grated by hav­ing to wait six hours in an emer­gency depart­ment and pay ex­or­bi­tant costs for the plea­sure.

I have been a physi­cian as­sis­tant for 40 years, and I am a strong ad­vo­cate for the fam­ily health sys­tem or the essence of pa­tients re­ceiv­ing treat-

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