The NP community is abuzz with the recent article on the NY Times website, “When the Nurse Wants to be Called ‘Doctor.‘” The article mostly focuses on the doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree and how that may impact patients and the health care system.
These types of articles are notorious for sparking heated discussions on blogs and other forums. Perhaps it’s the way the article is written: nurses (nurse practitioners) versus physicians. There are the predictable quotes from each respective profession. When can we move past this? Why aren’t we focusing on the patient in this area of patient-centeredness?
I can go on and discuss how the word doctor isn’t owned by any one profession. And that the meaning of doctor is “to teach.” And how doctor is an academic title and there is no one test to magically become one. And why it’s OK to use the title doctor for chiropractors, dentists, podiatrists, and psychologists. But I won’t really go there. Our patients and health care system really can’t afford to.
With the U.S. health care system perennially scoring low in quality/efficiency, perhaps new approaches in the form of doctorates are needed. As we all know, the health care system is quite complex with no one profession “owning” any more or less of it. The system is also inefficient and fraught with waste and duplication. We have seen recent innovations in health information technology attempt to make the system better interconnected and efficient. Doctorates throughout healthcare may be another innovation of sorts that will make clinicians better prepared to practice in an evidence-based, culturally competent way while reducing health disparities and improving quality.
Surely, no one change in health care will serve as the cure-all. However, we need to remain open to options that may potentially make us better clinicians and care givers. When and how can more education ever be a bad thing? It really can’t. We’ve entered a profession that has no terminal event to mark that we know it all. It would be quite pompous to think so.
I honestly don’t believe this is any one profession’s attempt to fool patients into thinking that they are receiving care from a physician. This is a movement to bring our patients an additional perspective to their care with the intention of achieving higher quality and individualized compassionate care. I’m not sure who would want to argue against that.