Physician-led team approach to care helps ensure high quality patient care and value for health care spending

Statement attributable to:      
Rebecca J. Patchin, M.D.
Board Member, American Medical Association 

Oct. 5, 2010

"With a shortage of both physicians and nurses and millions more insured Americans, health care professionals will need to continue working together to meet the surge in demand for health care. A physician-led team approach to care - with each member of the team playing the role they are educated and trained to play - helps ensure patients get high quality care and value for their health care spending. 

"Nurses are critical to the health care team, but there is no substitute for education and training. Physicians have seven or more years of postgraduate education and more than 10,000 hours of clinical experience, most nurse practitioners have just two-to-three years of postgraduate education and less clinical experience than is obtained in the first year of a three year medical residency. These additional years of physician education and training are vital to optimal patient care, especially in the event of a complication or medical emergency, and patients agree. A new study shows that 80 percent of patients expect to see a physician when they come to the emergency department, with more than half of those surveyed willing to wait two more hours to be cared for by a physician. 

"The AMA is committed to expanding the health care workforce so patients have access to the care they need when they need it. With a shortage of both nurses and physicians, increasing the responsibility of nurses is not the answer to the physician shortage. Research shows that in states where nurses can practice independently, physicians and nurses continue to work in the same urban areas, so increasing the independent practice of nurses has not helped solve shortage issues in rural areas. Efforts to get health care professionals in areas where shortages loom must continue in order to increase access to care for all patients." 

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Lisa Lecas
AMA Media Relations
[email protected]