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Nurse Practitioner Elected Medical Staff President

Rebecca Hendren, for HealthLeaders Media, February 8, 2011

"We have been saying in nurse practitioner circles for years that nurse practitioners can do most of the things that docs have been doing," says Donaldson. "[The CEO] felt we could do a comparable job. So we've been doing it—and people like it."

As an admitting provider in the ER, the hospital's medical staff got to know Donaldson well and in 2008 he was invited to be on the team to review and revise the medical staff bylaws.

"The medical staff, all physicians, voted to give equal rights to nurse practitioners on the medical staff," says Donaldson. "Which means if you have a practice here and you are involved in admissions to this hospital, that you are equal to a doctor as far as privileges at the facility and within the medical staff."

In another unusual move, Donaldson's work in the ER means he admits patients to the hospital and its various providers every day, so the hospital decided to give him attending status.

Donaldson says that in 2009 the hospital needed to fill the position of medical staff president and was having difficulty attracting volunteers. So he put his name in the hat. 

"I look at that as like anything else nurse practitioners have done," he says. "There's a void and we step in and we do the job. So that's what I did."

Donaldson notes with a laugh that once a nurse practitioner's name was in the running, other physicians stepped up to add their names. After three rounds of voting, he was elected with more than 50% of the all-physician vote. Since his election, he has enjoyed success and support from his colleagues

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5 comments on "Nurse Practitioner Elected Medical Staff President"


Lisa Sams MSN, RNC (3/25/2011 at 4:51 PM)
Congratulations, this is such an important step for patients and families. Care can only be improved by high functioning interdisciplinary teams and what many consumers feel when they spend time with an Advanced Practice Nurse is they are treated as a whole person. Nursing continues to research and enrich clinical care through this view.

VBA (3/19/2011 at 1:39 PM)
Regarding medical management, the individual makes more difference than whether they are a physician or a nurse or a tech or anyone. A leader is a leader. With respect to the management of the critically ill patient and performing intubations, central lines, cracking a chest, cardioversion, and performing many other tasks, I am very concerned about not having a trained emergency physician in the emergency department. A nurse practitioner or physician assistant can do an amazing job for 90% of the patients who come to the ED, but there is a difference in the training both in content and duration between the two specialties (NP, PA is definitely a specialty and are amazingly skilled positions). its similar to a computer programmer and a the hardware engineer; both very skilled, but different talents and knowledge sets. They are not substitutes of each other and can be very dangerous when someone comes to the ED with a true emergency to not have the right person there to help them.

Susan Johnson (3/18/2011 at 11:06 PM)
I'm sorry, but when I go to an emergency room I expect their to be a doctor on-site. Maybe a nurse can handle many/most of the things that go on in an ER, but its ridiculous that there's absolutely no ER doctors on staff and its all nurses and PAs. Thats extremely dangerous to let these folks practice solo without supervision. An ER doctor has more than 4 times the training that an emergency NP or PA gets. We are not talking about a clinic where people treat cough and runny nose. The name is EMERGENCY for a reason and we need the BEST trained people we can get in there. I will not be coming to that hospital anytime soon and I'd advise everyone else to steer clear of it.