06 September 2013

Are Doctors a Threat to Their Own Occupation?

Yes, according to Dr. Paul D. Simmons and he does not mince words. His final paragraph quite accurately sums up the whole argument, “If my professional organization, the AAFP (American Academy of Family Physicians), wants to know who is eroding the identity, role and practice spectrum of family physicians, they need not look at NPs. They need only look in the mirror.”

According to Dr. Simmons, in recent months, AAFP president Reid Blackwelder has been up in arms about what he sees as the encroachment of nurse practitioners (NPs) and other mid-level providers on the practice of family physicians. Dr. Blackwelder has repeatedly said that NP and physician roles are “not interchangeable.”

I do take delight is his term for specialist – partialist. These partialists are the ones that have slowly pushed the family physicians out of their practices by limiting what they are trained to do. Yes, it is not the NPs that have denied family physicians privileges to practice obstetrics, to do C-sections, to do endoscopy, to practice conscious sedation and to do minor surgeries – in other words, to practice the full scope of family medicine. The culprit according to Dr. Simmons are their colleagues who see us as a threat to their “turf” (and income) who have restricted our credentials and ability to practice.

Dr. Simmons continues, “It is we who have voluntarily given up our scope of practice in many areas, who are surrendering our hospital, obstetrical and surgical practices either in the name of an easier lifestyle or because of pressure to see more patients per day.”

Then he addresses the impending physician shortage by saying that there will not be enough family physicians to fill the gap. NPs he says will serve in that necessary role and do an excellent job. It will happen, it already has happened, and there is no way for the AAFP to prevent it. Good for Dr. Simmons.

This is also the reason I have written about the American Telemedicine Association calling for national licensing which medical associations and state medical boards are in full opposition. Then I also blogged about doctor bashing because this is happening because doctors will not make referrals when they are not current in an area. With the impending shortage of physicians, patients are going to become frustrated. If the frustration becomes large enough, the manure will hit the fan and the doctors opposing NPs, PAs, and pharmacists, plus other doctors who are qualified and could work across state lines may just find themselves hurting for patients. I hope this does not happen, but I would not bet against it. I just say let these doctors shoot themselves in the foot. Maybe the pain in one end will bring some sense to the other end.

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