APCs play a vital role in healthcare delivery

August 25, 2013

A letter writer comments on the important role played by advanced practice clinicians in delivering primary care.

I appreciate your article on the willingness of patients to see Advance Practice Clinicians (APCs) (“Patients Open to Expanded Role of Physician Assistants, NPs,” June 25, 2013.) As a physician assistant (PA) with 2 decades of clinical experience, I have rarely had occasion for a patient to refuse my care.

As PAs, we don’t see just ear infections and sore throats and leave the physician to deal with “more complicated” patients. In our practice, we all see what walks in the door- everything from chest pain that needs emergency hospital transport to the laceration that needs suturing to the hypertensive, dyslipidemic, diabetic individual with coronary artery disease, to coughs, colds, and sore throats. We epitomize what it means to work in a team setting and patients who access care in our clinic know they will be well cared for regardless of the initials behind our names.

My physician colleague comes to me with questions regarding patient care as often as I go to him, and he doesn’t look over my shoulder with every suture I place, each chest x-ray I interpret, and every assessment/plan of care I develop. He knows that patients receive great care from both PAs in our office and is professionally respectful to us as his colleagues. 

It seems to be a waste of energy to flame turf wars when it will take every qualified professional to deliver healthcare to the masses that are about to flood the system. We should be embracing one another and the skills each well-trained professional brings to the table.

Market demand and access-to-care issues will redirect and require much from those of us in healthcare.  There will be very little that any one group will be able to do to stop the upcoming changes and repair our broken system. But together, we could become a much more efficient healthcare system.  That won’t happen if the leaders of physician organizations such as the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians continue their territorial rants that dismiss the contributions APCs offer the American healthcare landscape.

We all need to get out of our boxes and get creative. Those who do will survive the steamroller of change. Those who don’t will either get out of medicine or be miserable within it.

Nichole Bateman, MPAS, PA-C

Miami, Oklahoma