Letter to the editor: Nurse practitioners & doctors
While I respect Catherine Grant and nurse practitioners (NPs) who care for Pennsylvanians in rural areas, I disagree with the solution she proposed in her op-ed “Please, let nurse practitioners serve patients” (Dec. 8, TribLIVE).
Grant suggests that Pennsylvanians will gain better access to care by removing a state law that requires NPs to collaborate with physicians. States that have granted independent practice to NPs continue to struggle with access issues. Those states did not experience a sudden surge in additional NPs in rural areas.
In addition, nothing in current law keeps NPs from practicing to the fullest extent of their training. A collaborative agreement with a medical doctor is not a burden, but rather an assurance of greater expertise immediately available in the care of patients.
Case in point: Grant already owns her own health center. She can prescribe medications, order diagnostic tests and manage patients with chronic illnesses. As her story demonstrates, she’s already practicing to the fullest extent of her training and making a difference in her community.
Finally, when polled, a majority of Pennsylvanians say physicians should be immediately available when being treated by an NP.
The question our elected leaders need to ask is whether they support removing physicians from health care teams as the nurses suggest. We believe that’s the last thing patients want.
Dr. Lawrence John
The writer is a family physician and president-elect of the Pennsylvania Medical Society.