Medgadget recently had the opportunity to interview the president-elect of the AMA, a cardiologist. Someone obviously with the finger on the pulse of primary care. One of the hot topics that he was asked about was the bleak outlook on primary care. This is from the interview:
Q: Here's a question from one of our editors, Nick Genes. He's a resident of emergency medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. Many pundits and experts believe that the US government will improve access to primary care (one way or another) in the next 2-5 years. The Massachusetts experiment suggests there will not be enough primary care doctors to cover the increased demand. Already, primary care doctors are overworked and under compensated, with many leaving the field or choosing specialty training instead. How is the AMA planning to respond to this challenge?
A: ... We continue to mention the importance of trained primary care, and I should also mention the AMA created the scope of practice partnership, because our concern is, that there are those who would rather have the nurse practitioner become the primary care physician. And we don't believe that's fundamentally fair for patients to try and say that a nurse practitioner is the same as a well trained physician who's undergone post graduate training in the practice of medicine.
For those of you unfamiliar with the "scope of practice partnership(SOPP):" is a collaborative effort within the House of Medicine to focus on the resources of organized medicine to oppose scope of practice expansions by non-MDs/DOs that threaten the health and safety of patients.
So the AMA's solution to respond to the challenge of physicians leaving primary care is to denigrate NP practice. I think most NPs acknowledge the fact that we aren't the same as physicians and use that difference as our distinction - we synthesize nursing and medical care. We NPs aren't the only targets here - optometrists, podiatrists, nurse midwives and chiropractors are among other professions that also make the list. In fact, 35 professional organizations formed a joint statement and launched the website, Coalition for Patient's Rights to offer a counterpoint to any inaccurate or misleading information.
The SOPP organizations are also prepared to put their money where their mouth is. It is estimated that at the onset of this movement in 2006, they had a minimum of $470k at their disposal and no less than $300k each additional year. That is a lot of money that doesn't do much to help the single mother without health insurance. Again, this is all under the guise of "protecting the health and safety of the public."
To put those dollars in perspective, my recent post on Remote Area Medical (RAM) operates on a budget of $250k/year and treats about 17,000 patients. Unfortunately, they must turn away thousands of patients since they simply cannot meet the demand.
Sadly, this is another example of creating further barriers to access healthcare. Precious resources are being wasted in this campaign that tries to portray NPs (and other health providers) as being part of the problem in healthcare.
This is the solution? Really?!?