How many years have Nurse Practitioners (NP) been working on being recognized for what we (really) do? For me, I have been working on this now for 15 years with the totally wrong approach. 15 years!!
Do some of these broken record explanations about what an NP is sound familiar?
…"No, I am not studying to be a doctor"... "No, I am not a LPN" ... "No, my intent is not to become a doctor" ... "Yes, I can prescribe medications" . “No, I am not a doctor, I am a Nurse Practitioner.” I remember just how many times I have repeated myself over the years with the many misunderstandings about my role.
And THEN!!...when I left public practice and went into private practice...my eyes opened even further!! NOBODY knows what a Nurse Practitioner is! Not even other health care providers, the public and even other Nurse Practitioners! Some NP had been squashed into the "mini-doctor" role for so long, that they had forgotten what a NP as a unique provider really is!
I heard much "complaining" from other NP’s over the years about the lack of recognition and appropriate pay for the role for the level of responsibility. So TRUE, but why has this never changed over the whole 15 years of practice? Because we have been using the totally wrong approach! Our associations have been “trying” to work with employers, unions, regulators and political groups to advance the role and they have made great strides to allow us to “do more” as providers, but this has still not built the public recognition of the NP role whatsoever.
How do we, as NPs, achieve the value and recognition we deserve for our full scope of practice? Do we keep pushing the government and unions and employers even though that approach has not worked for over 15 years already? All of that has got us nowhere and we need to create a completely NEW approach and completely scrap what doesn’t work. We need to look inside ourselves as NP’s and rediscover the belief and excitement we once had for the role as it was meant to be. We need to put our foot down and clearly do what we do best as NP’s in the interest of patient care. We need to get out of these “union” and restrictive roles and be more out in the public eye doing what we do best! The PUBLIC, and NOT the government will be our best advocates once they discover who we are and what we can offer them in terms of quality holistic health care. It is the informed and knowledgeable public who will increase the demand for our type of care. The time is now for a totally transformational change I would say!
Author: Diane Gudmundson
Nurse Practitioner, Entrepreneur in Manitoba, Canada
Irrationally Passionate about NP role, outstanding care for patients, supporting and promoting NP’s and with Fitness and Nutrition / disease prevention and de-prescribing!
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NP Blog: www.uniqueprovider.com
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Diane Gudmundson has been an NP for over 14 years. She has a passion for the value and uniqueness of the NP role in our health care system.