Docs push back against drive to expand role of nurses

Defending its turf, the American Medical Association (AMA) on Tuesday pushed back against a new report recommending a broader role for nurses in provider settings.

"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 healthcare spending," Rebecca Patchin, AMA board member, said in a statement. 

"Nurses are critical to the healthcare team, but there is no substitute for education and training."

Tuesday's nursing report — a joint effort of the Institute of Medicine and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation — recommended that longer training and broader participation among nurses would go a long way toward improving care and cutting costs. 

"Transforming the nursing profession is a crucial element to achieving the nation's vision of an effective, affordable healthcare system that is accessible and responsive to all," Linda Burnes Bolten, chief nursing officer at L.A.'s Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, said in a statement.

But AMA, the largest physician lobby in Washington, warned that a focus on nurses at the neglect of doctors wouldn't solve the nation's access problems.

"With a shortage of both nurses and physicians," Patchin said, "increasing the responsibility of nurses is not the answer to the physician shortage."