There’s a movement in the nurse practitioner community to eliminate existing state requirements that NPs be supervised by or collaborate with physicians. Nurse practitioner organizations are engaged in the fight for nurse practitioner independence. While there is merit to the argument for expanding the scope of practice for NPs practicing in many states, working alongside a supervising or collaborating physician isn’t always a negative.
Throughout my nurse practitioner career, I have always worked closely with physicians given the nature of my practice environment. Overall, my experience with the hierarchical healthcare system hasn’t been a bad one. I am thankful for the assistance providers of all kinds with more education and experience than I have provided me as I have grown as a nurse practitioner. My value as an individual and a professional is not diminished given the fact that state laws and my employer require NPs to have physician oversight. Rather, in my personal experience, collaboration with MD coworkers has been as asset to my career. Here’s why.
Decreased Day-to-Day Stress
Acting as the ultimate decision maker when it comes to caring for patients is no easy task. Healthcare inevitably involves a significant amount of background knowledge, weighing positives and negatives, and making serious, sometimes life-altering decisions for others. While I am able to care for patients in these scenarios independently 90 percent of the time, it’s a stress reliever to have a designated point-person to go to for a second opinion or to ask questions as needed.
Working as an urgent care nurse practitioner, I was employed by a physician owned practice. Now, as an emergency department NP, I am employed by a physician owned ED staffing company. As a nurse practitioner in my state I could similarly open my own practice. But, this simply isn’t appealing to me. The associated managerial and operational tasks of owning a clinic aren’t something I enjoy. So, employment by a physician practice owner and collaborating MD is appealing. The arrangement allows me to focus on patient care rather than staffing, billing and accounting.
Continued Learning Opportunities
As nurse practitioners, most of us graduate from an NP program with significantly more on the job learning necessary compared to newly graduated MDs. This is simply a reflection of the disparity between the length of medical school compared with the length of a nurse practitioner program. Working alongside a collaborating physician gives nurse practitioners, particularly those newer to the profession, an opportunity to increase clinical knowledge and skills.
Laws regulating nurse practitioner’s scope of practice certainly have their downsides. Often, they accomplish little more than paper pushing and increasing practice overhead. But, if you do find yourself required to work with a supervising or collaborating physician, you may find that the professional relationship is an asset.
Do you prefer to go solo or work with a collaborating physician?
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