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Love your Nurse Practitioner!

December 19, 2012

A recent editorial in the New York Times about non-physician health care providers or NPPs, has drawn more than 260 comments.  Who are these NPPs and why do so many people care about them?

Historically, nurses have a long history of stepping in when there are gaps.  For example, in the early 1900s anesthesia was given by med students and interns and everybody was unhappy, until nurses started doing it full-time, and then the surgeons were much happier.  When surgeons are happy, everyone is happy, I’ll tell you that for free. 

Most of my readers don’t know this, but I was an advanced practice nurse before I went to med school.  I was one of these NPPs.  The thing about nurse practitioners is that they are trained under a nursing model, not a medical one.  The information is the same, but presented in a much different way.  I can tell you that the training I got in the arts of physical exam and interviewing were at least as good in nursing school as they were in med school.  Med school gives you the science background, which is awesome if you are going to study gene therapy or find a cure for cancer.  It doesn’t teach you much about how to take care of patients, which is why you have to do a residency.  Residency teaches you how to take care of diseases and sicknesses, but it’s brutal schedule and the medical milieu take away some of the “taking care of people” part.

Enter the nurses.  I was one.  I can tell you their training.  They have RNs plus usually some years of ICU experience and another 2 years in NP school.  They’re smart.  They know their limits.  They are good a what they do.  They will ask if they don’t know something. 

You don’t need neuroscience to take care of people, especially healthy people or people with chronic conditions.  You don’t need a medical degree to take blood pressures, manage medication, give vaccinations, talk to someone about their depression or how sick their mom is.  You don’t need a 5 year residency to diagnose an ear infection or treat a cold.  You just don’t.  And nurse practitioners, by their training in nursing, are much more likely to deal successfully with chronic conditions because they will talk to you and listen to you.  They don’t have the same time-pressures and paperwork blizzards that the doctors have.  They’ve been trained BY nurses, so they think like nurses, not like doctors.  They want to take care of you, not just fix your illness.  If you have a brain tumor that’s not so helpful, but for the vast majority of every-day health concerns, your NP is your friend.


From → Healthcare

  1. Sam Collins permalink

    No mention of medical model trained PA’s? Shame on you. PA’s are NPP’s also and should have been included in your treatise. Its time to all work together in this age of healthcare.

    • Absolutely right Sam. I don’t know as much about PA training so I couldn’t speak to it, but yes! The priniciple is the same. Count them in!

  2. Ellen permalink

    PAs are not trained in the nursing model…there IS a difference. And, NPs have more education, not to mention most NP programs demand that the nurse have at least 5 years experience as a nurse before they are accepted into a graduate program. PAs are accepted right out of high school and have a quick 5 year program. Nurse Practitioners have a 4 year bachelor’s degree, 5 years experience, and then a 3 to 4 year graduate program. Big Difference.

    • Sam Collins permalink

      Exclusive Ellen speaks. Why is the term NPP’s used? Why not just the name Nurse Practitioner used? Maybe because PA’s AND Nurse Practitioners are both non physician providers. PA’s arent going away, the team approach is here to stay whether or not everyone is trained in the nursing model, or not… You will be a better healer when you become more inclusive of others who are legally allowed to care for patients… And dont ever forget about the PT’s, and other awesome therapists who werent trained in the nursing model either.
      NP’s rock, just not by themselves!

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