Paging Dr. Nurse?

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Paging Dr. Nurse?

Health professionals debate roles, honorifics associated with advanced degrees

As more health professionals earn the "doctor" designation, some physicians are concerned that using the honorific in a health care setting will confuse patients, the Times reports.

As a result, various physician groups are supporting legislative efforts to restrict the use of the word "doctor." For example, a proposal in the New York State Senate would prohibit nurses from touting themselves as doctors regardless of their degree.

Meanwhile, laws in Arizona, Delaware, and other states already bar nurses, pharmacists, or other health care providers from using the title "doctor" without immediately identifying their profession.

A deeper debate?

According to the Times, "the battle of the title ‘doctor’ is in many ways a proxy" for a "deeper battle" over the role of various professionals in the health care system.

As a major primary care physician shortage looms, many states are turning to nurses and other health professionals to fill the gaps. Currently, 23 states allow nurses to provide care without physician supervision, and some nursing groups are lobbying to increase that number, the Times reports.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/02/health/policy/02docs.html?_r=1&ref=health

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