Doctors threatened by doctor-nurses

The doctoral program for nurses, now offered at more than 200 schools in the U.S. is facing opposition from the medical community.  According to NPR News, physicians are trying to prevent the National Board of Medical Examiners and the American Board of Comprehensive Care from administering the certification exam for doctor nurses scheduled for October 2009.  So far, this type of exam has only been offered once before – in November of 2008.

According to the article, “New Degree Creates Doctor Nurses – and Confusion” physicians are objecting to the amount of confusion the new title creates for patients.  What might be a bigger issue, however, is that physicians also view the highly educated nurse as a threat to his profession.

Is this new breed of nurse really trying to eat the doctor’s lunch?

“I am a doctorally prepared nurse,” says doctor nurse Ray Scarpa. A doctor, he says, “is a doctorally prepared physician.”

Scarpa works in the department of surgery at University Hospital in New Jersey. “I am not here to practice medicine, I am here to practice nursing,” he says. “And I practice it at an advanced level, and I have earned the right to be called doctor.”

For nursing students who begin right after college, it can take about six years to get the degree. While there is some overlap in knowledge, Scarpa says, doctors diagnose and treat while nurses have a wider focus including family, support and community. (npr)

Doctor nurses are also seen as potentially helping fill the gap in the current shortage of primary caregivers.

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One Response to Doctors threatened by doctor-nurses

  1. Laura Mitchell

    I used to tell my students: “Doctor” is a title, not an occupation. Physicians do not not have exclusive rights to the title of “doctor.” Besides PhD, we have DD, EdD, PharmD, DBA, JD, etc.