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The role of nurse practitioners in healthcare


Mehmet Can | Veer

I have one more year left of being a student, and still have a ton of knowledge to consume. But one thing I know for sure: Being a nurse practitioner student is equal parts excitement and aggravation.

The excitement is seeded in the information-laden state I’m in. Every day I learn something new and cutting edge, and yet so basic and simple to advanced practice. I’m a nurse learning to dip my feet in the deep, deep waters of medicine.

Just when I think I’ve got a hold on a subject, I get that slap in the face from reality. It’s tough being the new kid on the block sometimes.

The aggravation stems from the resistance nurse practitioners have been fighting for years. Being mid-level providers, the world of medicine seems to have drawn a line between support and rejection. To them, we are either here to help them deliver the very best evidenced-base care, or we are here to step on their toes.

I’m not sure why. I’m guessing some of the states that are lobbying for independent practice have struck a nerve in some areas. But once again, I’m still a student, I’m still learning.

Then there’s the offensive and degrading position some physicians have taken. I’m wondering if it’s a defense mechanism?

Today I was told by a physician that NPs are simply hired to do all the “scut-work” that physicians don’t want or like to do. In the physician’s words, “You guys do all the crap/garbage stuff we don’t like or have time for. Is that what you really want to do?”

It took everything I had to not resort to physical violence and/or verbal rampage. (Sorry, folks.)

No doctor, my career and my (soon-to-be) position in the healthcare system is not as your receptionist or your transcriptionist. I actually DO have a set of skills that can not only help you, but may, in fact, elevate the delivery of care to your patients. I am here to help you, not replace you or fill your shoes. I know my limitations.

Today’s healthcare team is supposed to be filled with forward thinkers. Unfortunately, this physician wasn’t one. It may be presumptuous of me to say this, but I think it had something to do with an “old dog learning a new trick.”

Am I wrong to think this way? I know that NPs and their function are gaining popularity and are becoming more widely acknowledged, but we aren’t that new to the block. In fact, NPs have been around for just shy of half a century. I suppose I shouldn’t be too upset by my experience, since it’s the first one of its kind. I guess the edge of the blade was just sharper than I expected.

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