An apple a day

By James E. Mattson | 04/20/2015

Giving credit where credit is due.

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Recent research reveals that an apple a day is less likely to keep doctors away than previously thought. I do eat an apple a day, and, until I see further evidence to back up this research, will continue to do so, because I haven’t seen a physician around here in a long time. In fact, the OB/GYN who lived next door moved away about a year ago. Miss you, Ron. Blame the Granny Smiths.
 
JEM_ID_embed_SFWThese findings did get me to thinking, though. To more accurately reflect reality, perhaps the long-standing, physician-related idioms we’ve been using for centuries need to be revised to reflect changes that have taken or are taking place in the nursing profession.
 
Here at Reflections on Nursing Leadership, we took an initial step in that direction a couple of years ago when Angel Shannon, an adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, began posting her blog in RNL and we called it “Is there an NP in the house?” Now, I’m not saying that the query “Is there a doctor in the house?” should be changed in every emergency situation to “Is there an NP in the house?,” but perhaps the time has come for a more universal way of expressing need for medical assistance. I wonder if Loretta “Lee” Ford, EdD, RN, PNP, FAAN, FAANP, envisioned that when she pioneered the nurse practitioner movement.
 
Maybe other doctor idioms should also breathe their last, so to speak. I Googled “doctor” and “idioms” and found 11 doctor-related idioms in The Free Dictionary, including doctor’s orders, doctor someone up, just what the doctor ordered, and you’re the doctor. Of course, not all of those terms are used only in medical situations, but words are important, and we should say what we mean and mean what we say—which brings me to medical and insurance forms, both paper and electronic.
 
I checked a form I filled out recently, and there it was, the question “Are you under a physician’s care?” followed by a space labeled “Family Physician.” How do you respond to such queries when your “physician” is a nurse practitioner, as mine is? (She’s a member of the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International, by the way.) To the question “Are you under a physician’s care?,” should I respond, “Kind of,” “No,” “Yes and no”? All of those fall short, it seems to me, so I dutifully write “Yes” and hope I don’t get in trouble for lying on a medical form. And I fill in my provider’s name, with her credentials.
 
As Carla Mills, ARNP, observes, studies show that nurse practitioners do about 80 to 90 percent of what physicians do, and the care they provide is at least equivalent to physician care, and, in some cases, superior. So, give credit where credit is due, I say. You see where this is heading, don’t you? We need to totally revise all forms in all health care offices everywhere to acknowledge physicians, nurse practitioners, and other advanced practice nurses.
 
By the way, if you clicked on the doctor idioms link I provided earlier, you may have noticed that one of them is “Doctor Livingstone, I presume?” I’ll leave that for another day. Identity theft is a whole ’nother problem.
 
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James E. Mattson is editor of Reflections on Nursing Leadership.
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