In between completing my assignment in Virginia and starting the one in Tampa, Florida (with the same company), I sent the CMO of the company a letter about my experiences working in Virginia. I had met him several times before and thought it would be a good way to share my experience at each clinic, both good and bad.
He was appreciative of my feedback and requested a meeting with me to see what my goals are and how the company could expand an internal traveling PCP program.
As our conversation began, I could tell how new the concept of having nurse practitioners was to the CMO. When he elaborated about the collaborative agreement between nurse practitioners and physicians, he also stated that there is a wide spectrum on preparation of nurse practitioners. He said that they have observed there can be some amazing, knowledgeable, and competent nurse practitioners; but on the other hand there can also be some inexperienced, insecure, and non-proficient nurse practitioners. Personally I agree, but it’s the same thing in any profession.
The CMO continued to ask me what was the perception of nurse practitioners from the patient’s point of view. He asked how my previous patients handled having a nurse practitioner as a PCP. I told him that the concept of nurse practitioners is something new to a lot of people, especially the elderly population. Many times they do not know what a nurse practitioner is, yet once they see that we practice similarly to physicians at a holistic level, they are fine with it. I told him that of course there are patients who automatically say they do not want to see a nurse practitioner and feel as if they need to be seen by a physician. He asked me, in my experience, what percentage of patients would I say did not want to see the nurse practitioner? I responded with 5% of patients or less. Perhaps other people’s experiences vary from mine.
I found his questions to be intriguing because like I said before, the concept of nurse practitioners is so new, even to a big shot CMO like him.
I updated the other nurse practitioners at my clinic on our conversation. I emphasized the fact that only WE can be our own advocates. That we have to speak up for ourselves when either management or patients try to suppress us. For instance, any time a recruiter or manager calls a nurse practitioner a “mid-level provider”, I make sure to correct them.
In addition, when a patient calls to be seen by their PCP the day of, the front desk will tell them “Your doctor doesn’t have an openings, but you can see the nurse practitioner.” I personally don’t like the way it is said, because it insinuates that the nurse practitioner is the next best thing, and not as good. So I am trying to encourage the front desk to say instead “We can accommodate you today but you will unlikely be seen by your PCP, and may have to be seen by another provider.”
Besides being our own advocate, I think as nurse practitioners, we need to have confidence. Sometimes I hear nurse practitioners turn down a job because they are afraid they are not well trained or competent enough for the position. Of course anything new is scary, but as long as you put in the effort and the time, I feel like you can excel in anything. Physicians will look up things they are not familiar with; we can do the same without being embarrassed by it.
In my next post I will elaborate on the second major part of my conversation with the CMO.