Family Physicians Rap 'Stopgap' Use of Nurse Practitioners

John Commins, September 24, 2012

A report that warns against "stop-gap" substitutions of nurse practitioners for primary care physicians may have rekindled the long-smoldering border skirmish between the clinician associations.

The report, Primary Care for the 21st Century, was issued this month by the American Academy of Family Physicians, and reaffirms its support of physician-led, patient-centered medical homes as the best method of transforming primary care delivery.

In sharp contrast, the AAFP says advocating "independent practice by a single health professional," namely nurse practitioners in place of physicians, "flies in the face" of studies supporting the cost-effectiveness and quality outcomes of the physician-led care team approach.

"We are not trained to do the same things, so to imply that one can substitute for the other is just incorrect," Roland Goertz, MD, chair of the AAFP Board of Directors, told HealthLeaders Media. "The educational backgrounds are different. Even nursing leadership says 'we are not trying to be doctors,' but policy setters tend to simplify things, which is a kind way of saying it."

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.


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