There is a particular physician employed by my hospital who HATES nurse practitioners.  Should you as a nurse practitioner enter the physician lounge for a quick bite to eat or park in a physician-reserved spot prepare for immediate and intense verbal assault if this particular doctor is present.  If you treat one of his patients in the ER, get someone with an MD behind their name to call in the consult for you.  Otherwise, prepare for verbal battery.  But is this the norm?

One question I am frequently asked by prospective nurse practitioners is if I feel respected or valued by the physicians with whom I work.  Prospective NP’s want to be sure they aren’t entering a career where they will be looked down on or treated as second class citizens.

I can say with confidence most physicians, particularly those that hire nurse practitioners, treat NP’s with respect.  Our scope of practice is different than that of physicians but as a nurse practitioner I know my boundaries and abide by them.  The physicians with whom I work don’t hesitate to teach me when I have a question or problem and do so in a way that does not undermine my intelligence and exhibits respect.  I feel that they recognize my gaps in knowledge do not represent an intellectual deficit but simply that I have less formal medical education.  The doctors with whom I work would much rather be helpful and approachable than compromise patient safety.  They also recognize that as they help me increase my skills, I become a more valuable asset and am able to perform at an increasingly higher level.

The physicians and nurse practitioners in the ER where I work take a collaborative, team-based approach to treating patients.  Typically, physicians treat the elderly and most sick patients while I treat the moderately ill or acutely injured.  In practice, the system does not always work that way.  We may, for example, have multiple significantly ill patients present to the ER at the same time.  In this case, I step up and treat very sick patients making sure to get physician input in my plan of care as necessary.  I never feel less valued because I don’t perform higher level functions such as intubating patients or running codes in the ER.  In fact, I prefer not to have the pressure of these jobs!

When will physicians stop respecting you as a nurse practitioner?  As in any job, you will be respected if you work hard.  Just because you chose to become a NP rather than a MD does not mean you don’t need to pull your own weight.  Another good way to lose respect is making mistakes.  Use the physicians with whom you practice as a resource.  It is much better to ask questions of your supervising physician or physician colleagues than to make a mistake compromising a patient’s health.  If you don’t ask questions, not only are you practicing dangerously but you will lose respect from coworkers.  Develop your skills and discipline and seek help when you need it.  Work hard, work smart and you will gain and keep respect from your physician colleagues.

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6 thoughts on “Do Physicians Respect Nurse Practitioners?”

  • This is bull! The author has an idealistic attitude to put it mildly! I graduated with a 4.0 gpa. I work like a dog to provide excellent care. I have a network of specialists who have helped me grow In my profession. I have found cancers in my doc’s patients and have also found coagulation disorders in their DVT patients. I work very hard but have gotten only hatred from my 2 docs in my office who accuse me of “thinking I’m a doctor.” Many of the one doc’s patients have switched to me because he lacks any compassion. So then I am accused by the docs of stealing patients!! They closed my panel and had to open his — a doc who has practiced there for 30 years!!!! But that is all my fault! So I DO NOT want to hear that if you work hard, your docs will respect you! Sorry, but I am now bitter & this is bull!

  • Yeah, it’s like people don’t think my 2 year online NP degree from a for profit degree mill is respectable. I honestly can’t understand why an MD who has gone through 7+ years of medical training is more respected than me. What gives! I mean all the patients love me because I’m so sweet and nice to every and will give antibiotics to all my sick patients! They just keep coming back, but the bad physciains are so mean and think i’m incompetent when in fact I think i’m very smart and an excellent, kind, and caring provider!

  • Ryan, this cannot be true. I hope you do NOT give all of your “sick” patients antibiotics. Please research antibiotic stewardship so that you may be better informed about superbugs and needless antibiotic treatment. As for your degree mill, I am uncertain why you would say this unless you are actually questioning your school’s integrity. I think this post is fictional.
    Due diligence is mandatory. KL, DNP, ARNP

    • K, it was obviously sarcasm. I think the whole point of Ryan’s post just flew over your head. He is making fun of NPs and implying they are not even close to being as educated and well trained as MDs.

  • Natalie Jo Flynn, ANP, ACNP, CHC says:

    I believe there was a mix up somewhere with NPs being compared to MDs, we are 2 different animals going for the same meal with 2 different approaches. An NP however in MY work experience is the fill in for the MD therefore expected , by other staff and team members to function in place of and do the same thing as… I have heard so many times ” you’re almost a doctor” OR “You are the doctor when the doctor isnt here” Of coarse I am not a doctor, the training is very different. Nps are trained in a holistic approach when considering care of Patient and family. I am trained in assessment, diagnosis and treatment in my scope, specialty, much is on the job training. I know enough to consult and research when needed. I also know the care I provide, the time I spend has always been greatly complimented by my clients and families.

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