Letter: Nurse practitioners still need a doctor’s oversight

Letter: Nurse practitioners still need a doctor’s oversight

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Coronavirus testing

Nurse practitioner Angela Schiefelbein directs employees at a coronavirus testing site outside, from her office at an Affinia clinic in St. Louis on Thursday, April 23, 2020. Schiefelbein has been an employee with Affinia for 17 years. Photo by Colter Peterson, cpeterson@post-dispatch.com.

Regarding “‘Really frustrating’: Amid coronavirus, Missouri nurse practitioners want more autonomy” (April 24): I agree it’s imperative to find ways to deliver care now and once the epidemic is over, especially in rural areas. I also agree that nurse practitioners have an important role in providing some, but not all, of the care physicians provide.

Emergency medicine physicians work closely with nurse practitioners every day. They feel the best way to do this is in a collaborative practice model where nurse practitioners have autonomy, but a physician is reviewing charts and assisting with complicated patients.

Physicians complete four years of medical school, followed by a residency program, getting more than 10,000 plus clinical hours. Medical schools undergo accreditation to ensure they are properly educating students, yet the same standardization is not true of all nurse practitioner programs. Some programs have amazing clinical experiences, while others require that students find clinical experiences, with little oversight, or have them only observe, and some graduate with only 500 clinical hours.

It’s important to mention that while the article relates the frustration prompted by the coronavirus, similar bills regarding independent practice have been around for over a decade. Emergency physicians value working side-by-side with nurse practitioners. However, as front-line providers during this pandemic, many believe the efforts of government officials are better spent on increasing personal protective equipment supplies and expanding rapid and reliable testing. Instead, it looks like some are using this unprecedented time as an opportunity to score political points.

Evan Schwarz • Brentwood

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