Nurse Practitioners Practice “More Than Medicine”?

This article reports on a book written by Latonya Trotter, assistant professor of sociology Vanderbilt University. This blog is not about bashing or disparaging NPs. Nor is it about NPs practicing medicine. Although the title is misleading. It misleads to the notion that NPs practice medicine versus advance practice nursing. The first sentence of the article bothers me: “Nurse practitioners (NPs) are often thought of as stopgaps to mitigate the shortage of primary care physicians.”Unfortunately, the sentiment has a bit of truth in it, as NPs are often touted and promoted as means to fill the primary care physician shortage. Never mind that this is a physician problem to solve, now we have to compete with NPs for both our jobs, and the false notion of equality. In her book

What she realized was that NPs were not simply healthcare professionals capable of performing virtually all the same tasks as physicians, but they also worked to solve many other non-medical challenges their patients faced related to poverty

            Here this statement rationalizes that because NPs can do tasks, they must be equal. Never mind the extreme differences in depth and breadth of education. I can drive a car, but because I can, does that qualify to be equal to a race car driver? No, but how does this rhetoric become such commonplace? It disturbs me. It’s an agenda that seems to be taking hold pervading the health care world. But the article about the book is not about NPs practicing medicine, it’s about:

“Many of the problems health care organizations—and nurse practitioners especially—are tasked with solving aren’t just medical problems, but social ones,”

The article reports that much of the work NPs do, was once performed by social workers and many of the problems patients faced: transportation problems, affordable medication, good nutrition, safe living environments.

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