Letter to the Editor: Independent NPs require more training

As physicians, we pledge to do no harm to patients. To understand how to do so properly and provide quality care requires training and sacrifice. We watch as our peers go forward into their careers while we bury ourselves in studies and clinical training and incur thousands of dollars of debt to fulfill our dreams of caring for others at the highest level.

I work alongside and have deep respect for nurse practitioners (NPs). They are advanced professionals and should, in some cases, be able to practice independent of physician oversight. But there is a bill under consideration by the Virginia General Assembly that would allow NPs to practice independently after only two years of post-graduate education and two years of clinical training. A physician is required to complete four years of medical school and, at a minimum, three years of residency training, even in primary care. Many physicians take additional years to build a specialty, such as in neurosurgery, orthopedics or emergency medicine.

NPs should be held to similar standards of training as physicians if they want to practice independently, and we must do more in Virginia to ensure their stringently regulated clinical training. This means five years of clinical training, not two. The standard of training should be nothing less than the highest possible level. House Bill 1737 might seem like a way to create more healt hcare providers in Virginia, but ask: When you find yourself in an emergency room, what level of competency do you want at your bedside?

President, Virginia College of Emergency Physicians