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The doctor wants to see you, but has been replaced by a nurse practitioner

Letter to the Editor, Wall Street Journal, Sept 25, 2020

I’d like to respond to “The Doctor Won’t See You Now” (The Future of Everything, Sept. 11) on behalf of Physicians for Patient Protection, a grass-roots organization of over 12,000 physicians. Studies that show equivalence in care between nurse practitioners and physicians are flawed. The largest comprehensive review of the subject analyzed 18 studies comparing nurse-practitioner care to physician care. The studies had small sample sizes and short duration of follow-up, and only three were completed in the U.S. Every study reviewed involved nurse practitioners working under physician supervision, most excluded high-risk or complex patients and several studies had high degrees of bias. Not a single large-scale study has compared the care provided by nurse practitioners practicing independently, without physician supervision.

Family physicians are the most likely medical professionals to work in rural areas, and states that have allowed independent nurse-practitioner practice haven’t seen the promised increase in access to medical care in rural and underserved areas. While nurse practitioners (and physician assistants) are important members of the health-care team, they receive different training and education. A nurse practitioner graduates with a minimum of 500-1,500 hours of clinical experience, while a physician will have completed 15,000 hours of training before permitted to treat patients independently. It is this extensive and rigorous training that we call on to accurately diagnose and treat patients. Increasingly, patients are losing the opportunity to be cared for by a physician. The doctor wants to see you but has been replaced by a nurse practitioner.

Rebekah Bernard, M.D.


Physicians For Patient Protection



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