On behalf of the 5,000 family physician, family medicine resident and medical student members of the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians, I write to express our dismay at the liberties taken by Barnesville Hospital in identifying two of their advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) as family practitioners.
A family practitioner is a specialized type of physician. Family practitioners are also known as family practice physicians, family medicine physicians, board certified family physicians, family practice doctors and family doctors. And in the past few years, the term practitioner has been used less and less as family physician is the preferred term. An advanced practice registered nurse could be identified as a family nurse practitioner but is not a family practitioner.
APRNs have a unique and important role in health care but have not completed medical school and residency training that affords them the same knowledge, training, experience, and skills as those who have. The training of an APRN is more equivalent to a third year medical student than a primary care physician who has completed four years of medical school and a three-year residency program.
The roles of a physician and a nurse are not interchangeable and the hospital’s misleading reference to APRNs as family practitioners inappropriately blurs the line between the two. The hospital system’s identification of APRNs as family practitioners unacceptably confuses patients and needs to corrected immediately.
Stan Anderson, MD
Ohio Academy of Family Physicians