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December 14, 2022
David Burda
Consumerism Innovation Outcomes

Nurses Without Doctors

I had to reschedule my Dec. 19 annual visit with my cardiologist, and he’s booked so far out that his self-scheduling tool on my portal wouldn’t accept a new date. I called his office to reschedule, and his admin confirmed that the tool doesn’t accept any new appointments after a certain date. I guess it’s like trying to book a flight so far in advance that the airline doesn’t know its flight schedule yet.

The admin gave me a few choices. Keep my original appointment. Wait a few months and try the self-scheduling tool again. Or see a nurse practitioner in the cardiologist practice in three weeks. I took the appointment with the nurse practitioner. Nothing against my cardiologist, but I’m confident that my NP will be just as good as he is. Anyone who knows the healthcare system intimately knows that it’s nurses, not doctors, who have seen it all and know exactly what to do in almost any situation.

That point of view made me curious about the results of a survey conducted by Medscape about what doctors and nurse practitioners think of each other. As it turns out, most of them think a lot alike with two notable exceptions.

In a survey of more than 750 physicians, here are some things doctors think of NPs:

  • 87 percent of the doctors described their working relationship with NPs as good or very good.
  • 71 percent of the doctors said they’re somewhat to very satisfied with the clinical care provided by NPs.
  • 45 percent of the doctors said patients’ reactions to NPs practicing independently are somewhat to very favorable.
  • 69 percent of the doctors said states should not expand NPs’ treatment abilities.

In a survey of more than 750 nurse practitioners, here are some things NPs think of doctors:

  • 92 percent of the NPs described their working relationship with doctors as good or very good.
  • 75 percent of the NPs said they’re somewhat to very satisfied with the clinical care provided by doctors.
  • 88 percent of the NPs said patients’ reactions to NPs practicing independently are somewhat to very favorable.
  • 96 percent of the NPs said states should give them expanded treatment abilities.

Doctors and NPs like working with each other. They both think the other provides good patient care. But doctors say patients don’t like NPs as much as NPs think they do. And NPs say states should expand their scope of practice — a move opposed by most doctors.

Obviously, their differences are about control and money, not about personalities or patient care. That’s too bad because we, the customers, all need expanded access to high-quality and affordable healthcare.

I got lucky because my cardiologist referred me to a nurse practitioner. Maybe that’s easy for him to do because he has so many patients that it broke his self-scheduling tool.

I’m looking forward to my visit with my NP. Boy, have I got a lot of questions for her.

Thanks for reading.

About the Author

David Burda

David Burda began covering healthcare in 1983 and hasn’t stopped since. Dave writes this monthly column “Burda on Healthcare,” contributes weekly blog posts, manages our weekly newsletter 4sight Friday, and hosts our weekly Roundup podcast. Dave believes that healthcare is a business like any other business, and customers — patients — are king. If you do what’s right for patients, good business results will follow.

Dave’s personnel experiences with the healthcare system both as a patient and family caregiver have shaped his point of view. It’s also been shaped by covering the industry for 40 years as a reporter and editor. He worked at Modern Healthcare for 25 years, the last 11 as editor.

Prior to Modern Healthcare, he did stints at the American Medical Record Association (now AHIMA) and the American Hospital Association. After Modern Healthcare, he wrote a monthly column for Twin Cities Business explaining healthcare trends to a business audience, and he developed and executed content marketing plans for leading healthcare corporations as the editorial director for healthcare strategies at MSP Communications.

When he’s not reading and writing about healthcare, Dave spends his time riding the trails of DuPage County, IL, on his bike, tending his vegetable garden and daydreaming about being a lobster fisherman in Maine. He lives in Wheaton, IL, with his lovely wife of 40 years and his three children, none of whom want to be journalists or lobster fishermen.

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