Last week the Florida House Select Committee on Health Care Workforce Innovation approved a bill proposal to allow nurse practitioners to change their name and practice under complete independence from physician oversight, which will include full narcotic and other controlled substance privilege rights. Despite nurse practitioners having less intense medical training than physician assistants and merely a fraction of the training of physicians, legislators tout this to be a necessary move to improve access to health care in Florida. Sadly, a misguided ER physician (Rep. Cary Pigman) is leading the way.
I have worked with nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) I would put up against some family physicians with regard to competence, bedside manner and general knowledge. However, although both needed years of practical experience of supervising physician education and guidance before they had reached that level, the NPs, I found, had far less in didactic training than the PAs.
The arrogance of various medical associations and the lazy and intolerable ignorance of most legislators aside, it is high time for the nurse practitioner organization to “put its money where its mouth is” and agree to be included under the umbrella of the appropriate department of professional regulations, the Florida Board of Medicine (as opposed to the Board of Nursing under which they are regulated). We are, after all, talking about the independent practice of medicine here, aren’t we?
Furthermore, NPs, if you want to upgrade your status, upgrade your education! Instead of buying a new degree from Rep. Pigman and his campaign money-hungry colleagues, earn it by improving your training. Otherwise, we are setting a dangerous precedent: Your favorite greedy legislator will introduce a bill to his colleagues to promote any professional to a more advanced level.
We’ve already diluted the standards for Florida’s education system and our justice system. Why not ask our legislators to do the same to dilute the quality of our medical care as well!
The writer is a doctor of osteopathic medicine.