The Invisible Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners continue to be healthcares’ best kept secret.

I recently moved to Jefferson City, MO which feels a world away from living in a state where NPs have full practice authority (FPA). I knew that the Missouri practice act was less than ideal. That said, I did not expect when I opened up the phone book to look for offices with NPs that i would find so few NPs listed (really after looking for a bit, I found 4 NPs listed with physician practices).

invisible nurse practitioners

Now Jefferson City is not a large city by any stretch of the imagination, but it is the state capital and has a bit more than 43,000 residents.

The town I lived in has less than 17,000 and where I practiced (Olympia, WA – also the state capitol) the population was about 48,000. In both places, one could open up the phone book and find Nurse Practitioners listed – either in their own practice, or as colleagues in physician and medical group practices. In other words, they are visible.

This is not the case in the state capitol of Missouri. I believe the reasons are likely related to the practice act, prevailing physician attitudes about NPs and FPA, and ultimately lack of education about Nurse Practitioners.

(An aside here: my in-laws have been seeing a MD cardiologist and have been less than pleased – they did not understand why medication was important, the significance of their diagnosis and was never told when to follow-up. They finally saw a cardiology NP last week and are thrilled…she took the time to listen, explain and follow up.)

[tweetthis]Are nurse practitioners visible or invisible in your community?[/tweetthis]

I know that Missouri is not the only state where visibility is an issue. Are nurse practitioners visible or invisible in your community? Take a look around:

  • Are nurse practitioners listed in the phone book (yes, people still use them)?
  • Are you on the practice websites? What about on the practice social media accounts?
  • Do you (and your colleagues) have a website of your own (like a digital business card)?
  • Is your name listed on the reader board or the office door so patients know you exist when they come into the office?
  • Does your front desk staff acknowledge that you are in the office and available for new patients?

If the answer is yes to the above questions, great – share with your colleagues how you market yourself.

However, if the answer is no, what can you do to make yourself visible? How can we call support one another to finally remove the dubious honor of being healthcare best kept secret?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments 3

  1. One of the largest healthcare organizations in our area, employing somewhere around 200 nurse practitioners (perhaps more by now,) and there is no mention of NP’s on their website! You could not use their search engine to find an NP if you wanted to do so. It is disgraceful and one of the many reasons why I left after almost 15 years. And, believe me it was not for lacking of trying. There was just no support internally for our position, and there continues to be no support.

  2. Post


    That is so sad. I think it is up to us to make ourselves visible, “they” are not going to do it for us”. And we need to educate patients and other stakeholders to demand the ability to find and see NPs and other APNs. I hope you are now in a more supportive environment.

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