Physician groups have fueled lawmakers’ concerns by emphasizing the differences in education between doctors and “advanced practice nurses,” which include nurse practitioners specializing in primary care.
Such nurses get a bachelor’s degree in nursing, then spend 21/2 to three years studying for a master’s degree. One more year of study is needed to get a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, which will be required of all newly minted nurse practitioners beginning in 2015. No residency or further training is required, but master’s programs include extensive clinical training in addition to classroom work.
Physicians must get a bachelor’s degree that typically includes various science courses, then spend four years in medical school, followed by at least another three years in a residency program.
That extra training means family doctors are equipped to recognize unusual circumstances that nurse practitioners might miss, said Reid Blackwelder, president-elect of the American Academy of Family Physicians.