Despite fear-mongering by some physicians, Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners provide excellent patient care

Letters to the Editor

Re: Nurses to the rescue? While you point out that research has found the care provided by Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners (ARNPs) to result in outcomes equal to those of physicians, you then provide extensive coverage to the fear-mongering of physicians who assert — without any empirical evidence — that physicians provide superior health care because they get more hours of training. This is an assumption as yet unsupported by any published research. With their “substantial scientific training,” one might hope physicians would only make claims based on equally scientific evidence.

To assert that ARNP training focuses on “care and comfort” is as insulting and biased as characterizing physician training as profit-motivated and paternalistic.

Whether or not physician assistants can safely practice independently of physicians remains to be seen. Unlike ARNPs, physician assistants are trained specifically to provide care only under the supervision of a physician. ARNPs, however, are trained to practice independently and do so quite well in many states, including Iowa, where I specialize in psychiatry. In fact I often hear from patients and their families that they have been more satisfied with my care than with that they received from physicians in the past. More and more people are concluding that rather than facing a shortage of physicians, this country is dealing with a shortage of nurse practitioners.

Megan Berryhill, ARNP, PMHNP-BC (West Des Moines, Iowa)

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