Working to Protect Patients

Physicians must continue to maintain the lead role in the field of medicine. There are sound reasons for the Oklahoma State Medical Association’s (OSMA) opposition to efforts by the physician assistants, advanced nurse practitioners and others in the support field of medicine who promote initiatives to perform their roles without physician supervision.

PA’s and Nurses are a vital part of the health care team, but they simply do not possess the same level of training and clinical expertise as a medical doctor. Physicians’ experience and approaches to the scientific nuances of medical care benefit the quality of patient care.  Physicians completed medical school and extensive years of rigorous training and residency in order to be competent to provide medical care and supervise the provision of that care. The number of years itself is typically double what nurse practitioners spend in training.

Research also indicates patients prefer to have their care provided in a team-based setting with physicians making sure their care is coordinated among multiple providers. The best patient care is team-based care, in which the various practitioners are communicating and working with the patient's best interest in mind. Fragmented healthcare promotes barriers between providers that can result in a lower quality of care.

Removing physician oversight will not significantly help rural health access. The geographic distribution of non-physician healthcare providers in Oklahoma mirrors that of physicians and studies from other states that have adopted independent practice have not shown any significant increase in the number of those caregivers moving to rural areas. To improve access to care in rural Oklahoma, we must work to recruit a variety of health care providers.

Certainly, we need to do more to promote health care in rural areas. However, without physicians involved, there will almost certainly be unintended consequences that are detrimental to the safety and well-being of Oklahoma patients. The Oklahoma State Medical Association will not support anything less than the highest quality medicine for all our citizens.