“Physician Extender.” It sounds like the name of a male enhancement product. It’s a term often used to describe a nurse practitioner or a physician’s assistant. I hate it. It’s insulting.
A nurse practitioner is not an adjunct physician. They do not supplement the care of a physician. They provide essential advance-practice nursing services, services that include diagnosis and provision of medical care.
While some of these services overlap those of medicine, nurse practitioners are not extensions of another profession, they provide care in their own right — as educated, licensed practitioners. Sometimes the only care provider for a community is a nurse practitioner.
A few years back, the term “extender” was used to describe nurse’s aides, as in “nurse extender.” I hated it then, too. It insulted the aides by implying they were less than individuals, not there to care for the patients, but to do the “lesser work” of the registered nurses.
Referring to nurse practitioners as “physician extenders” ignores the independent assessment and diagnostic skills possessed by advance-practice registered nurses. It insinuates that they function for the physician’s sake, not the patient’s sake.
“Extender.” I know it’s just a word, but words have power. Words convey attitudes. Words can confuse.
“Nurse Practitioner”: Educated, licensed, independent professional.
“Nurse practitioner” called a “Physician extender”: A rose by any other name? No. Not this time.
*This blog post was originally published at Emergiblog*