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NPs, PAs say stop attacks and support health care colleagues


This commentary was submitted as a rebuttal to “PA name change bad for patients and the profession.”

To the Editor:

At a time when COVID-19 cases are climbing and health care workers are struggling to meet the needs of our nation’s healthcare system, the commentary by Rebekah Bernard, MD, divides health care providers and demeans the education, experience, and value of physician associates (PA) and nurse practitioners (NP) in our opinion.

The ill timing of this negative message is equally matched by her mischaracterization of the PA title change and PA efforts to eliminate outdated administrative barriers, as well as her baseless attack on NP education and clinical training.

Let us be clear about one thing: What patients really want and deserve is access to high-quality care delivered by the health care provider of their choice. Patients deserve health care providers who are committed to modern, integrated, and coordinated health care delivery, led by professionals who are dedicated to ensuring that everyone is practicing to the full extent of their education, clinical experience, and scope of practice. Patients deserve health care providers who respect each other and work together to embrace solutions that will improve health care for the future.

Decades of research confirm the high quality of PA- and NP-delivered health care. The evidence is in, and it is irrefutable: PA- and NP-delivered care is associated with improved access to care, lower health care costs, and fewer avoidable emergency room visits.

With regard to the PA title change, the fact is this: Changing the profession’s title does not change what PAs do or affect a PA’s scope of practice. The new title – physician associate – directly addresses the common misperception that PAs merely “assist” physicians. It is in the best interest of patients and the health care system for PAs to hold a professional title that ensures clarity about the work that PAs do.

For the sake of patients, we urge Bernard and her organization to stop continuously attacking other professions and focus on what really matters – providing access to safe, effective, equitable, high-quality care to all patients.

We are committed to patient-centered, coordinated health care, and we continue to work with like-minded physicians and other colleagues to make this a reality.

Ms. Orozco is president and chair of the board of directors for the American Academy of Physician Associates. Dr. Kapu is president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

A version of this article first appeared on Medscape.com.



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