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Family Physicians Rap 'Stopgap' Use of Nurse Practitioners

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, September 24, 2012

Lisa Summers, CNM, a senior policy fellow, at the American Nurses Association, told HealthLeaders Media there is "a basic level of agreement" with the AAFP on the increased need to shift focus away from the costly and inefficient illness care model and toward primary care and preventive medicine.

Beyond that she says is "where the contention comes in."

"I have mixed feelings when reports like this come out," she says. "The bottom-line feeling at the ANA is that these turf battles that these kinds of reports turn into don't do a lot to benefit moving ahead the agenda of coordinating care, a shared goal of providing the best care for patients. That is our focus: How do we build truly integrated teams that keep the patient at the center of focus?"

Summers says that organizations and stakeholders as varied as the Joint Commission and AARP have for several years developed accrediting guidelines and policy statements addressing access to primary care that refer more broadly to the role of "clinicians" and move away from the physician focus.

"What this report points out to me is that it is a continued effort by organized medicine to preserve the status quo by focusing on physicians," she says. "Folks are beginning to reject this antiquated notion that they only way to deliver high-quality, patient-focused care is to have this captain-of-the-ship model."

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2 comments on "Family Physicians Rap 'Stopgap' Use of Nurse Practitioners"


Dee Swanson DNP FNP (9/25/2012 at 12:55 PM)
There is no data or research that documents the need for the length of time that a physician must study before becoming competent to provide primary care. The is more than ample data that supports the safety and competence of NPs as providers of primary care. This is about power, control, turf and money as it always is with physicians.

Dr Reg Broekmann (9/25/2012 at 3:21 AM)
In South Africa we are piloting a new PHC system in which PHC nurses are connected to a designated Family Health Practitioner via a sophisticated communication system. Clinical discussions result in learning and improvement on PHC nurse competence and referrals are authorised by the Family Health Practitioner. The FHP then can monitor the progress of each referral and will give feedback to the PHC Nurse on the final diagnosis and treatment - another learning experience.