He and Kalupa also point out that NPs and PAs can successfully fill team leadership roles. “Physicians need to be willing to accept that the personality traits that made them great clinicians are often not those that one would desire in a team leader,” Dr. Friar says. Using a football analogy, he notes that an important part of being a good team member is to play to other members’ strengths and protect them from their weaknesses. “You don’t have the linebacker run the ball, or the quarterback kick the field goal attempt; you use people’s strengths where they will be most effective for the care of your patients.”
When Conflicts Arise
Successful working relationships between physicians and NP/PAs hinge on clear expectations and the willingness to have difficult conversations, Cardin says. She has practiced as a hospitalist for seven years and prior to that worked in the acute-care setting. As a result, she says, she is quite comfortable seeing patients independently.
Hospitalists new to the group or those who have not worked with NPs before may bristle at that idea, she notes. If a problem arises, such as a perceived encroachment on one’s scope of practice, be willing to address it openly. All relationships are constantly evolving, and it’s important not to overreact.
It’s “just like driving a car,” she says. “If you overcorrect when a wheel comes off the road, you will wreck the car. Sometimes all that’s needed is a small adjustment to manage the problem.”
Gretchen Henkel is a freelance writer in California.
- Iglesias B, Ramos F, Serrano B, et al. A randomized controlled trial of nurses vs. doctors in the resolution of acute disease of low complexity in primary care. J Adv Nurs. 2013 March 21. doi: 10.1111/jan.12120 [Epub ahead of print].
- Hoffman LA, Tasota FJ, Zullo TG, et al. Outcomes of care managed by an acute care nurse practitioner/attending physician team in a subacute medical intensive care unit. Am J Crit Care. 2005;14(2):121-130; quiz 131-132.