Are Nurse Practitioners Physician Extenders?


Nurse practitioners as Physician Extenders

Honestly speaking, not many nurse practitioners are fond of being termed as physician extenders under any circumstances. They believe that they are very skilled and educated to be called as extensions of anyone leave alone physicians. They regard themselves as being experts and independent clinicians who are collaborators in medical field rather than extending their services to that of a physician. Anyway, based on any argument, nurse practitioners as physician extenders is the new way to go in the medical industry. Recent research has proved that integrating nurse practitioners in a surgery team of physicians provided more effectiveness in surgery than ever before. For instance, it reduced unnecessary ED visits by more than a half and the visiting nurse practitioner offered essential services such as physical and occupational therapy to the team.


Role of Nurse Practitioners as Physician Extenders

Nurse practitioners as physician extenders offer special care and attention to patients in the same capacity as independent medical physicians do. In most medical facilities there is minimal or no distinction between the roles played by these two medical personnel. Although in some places they are expected only to collaborate with only licensed physicians, in other places they are allowed to be their own bosses and make medical decisions just as a real physician would. Nurse practitioners simply act as agents of physicians. This is a complete contrast to vocational nurses whose roles and responsibilities are limited and can only follow the physician’s directives and guidelines. This is sometimes argued based on their relatively low medical training that does not qualify them to undertake such responsibilities. So whichever the case, nurse practitioners as medical extenders is a trend that is primarily being pioneered by the need to counter the shortage of real physicians by having the nurses take roles of medical physicians.


Why have Nurse Practitioners as Physician Extenders?

As stated earlier, the main reason of having nurse practitioners as physician extenders is possibly due to the increasing shortage of medical physicians in the medical environment. Although they are relatively less skilled than physicians, through experience and practice they are able to take on the roles of physicians comfortably well in the long run. Physicians are expected to undertake medical training for a period of not less than ten years and afterwards devote themselves in medicine for their entire life. This somehow limits the number of qualified nurses available today as not many of them can cope with such conditions. Unlike physicians, nurse practitioners have little academic requirements as after graduating as registered nurses, they are able to continue with their studies while still under practice and in a while, they are qualified as nurse practitioners. These make their number higher as compared to that of physicians and in a little while, they find themselves taking up the roles of physicians to compensate on this difference. Also it has been researched and found that having nurse practitioners as medical practitioners has improved effectiveness of medical services as well as enhanced resource allocation in medical facilities.


Benefits of Nurse Practitioners as Physician Extenders

It is pretty clear that having nurse practitioners as physician extenders is offering such a lucrative career that nurse practitioners can’t resist. This is well highlighted by many benefits associated with these new roles as explained here in:

Having nurse practitioners as physician extenders means that the salary and benefits offered are obviously higher than being an ordinary nurse. This professional also has a higher potential of increased numeration and other allowances to match the increasing cost of livelihood. However, salary varies with the specialty of the nurse practitioner. For instance, those specializing in hematology and oncology earning relatively higher.
On the side of the medical facility, a hospital is able to increase its profits especially if it is a private establishment. This is because the hospital will definitely employ fewer physicians and still be able to offer more or less similar services as the physicians would offer.
This has also led to patient satisfaction as nurse practitioners are able to offer more personalized medical attention. This also means offering high-quality care as well.



Although this trend comes with major benefits to all stakeholders involved, there are also some disadvantages associated with it. First of all, the freedom of the nurse practitioner is highly limited. There is no way you can become a physician extender if you wish to be on duty from 9 to 5. This is because you will definitely be summoned during odd times when there are fewer physicians in the hospital and in cases of emergency. Also the hospital might take advantage and call you when you are off duty and they feel that they require the presence of a nurse with physician like authority without incurring extra costs or burdens to the hospital. In simple terms, having nurse practitioners as physician extenders is a role coupled with numerous advantages and disadvantages as well.

Achieving the role of Nurse Practitioners as Physician Extenders is relatively easier than it seems. It all starts with one obtaining nursing qualifications by attaining bachelors of Science in nursing. This leads to your designation as a registered nurse and furthering your education by attaining a masters qualification will definitely land you a well rewarding profession of a nurse practitioner. However, specialization is a must for you to become an independent physician.



Although this trend of having nurse practitioners as physician extenders is being embraced by many hospitals, there is still an increasing debate as to the validity of allowing nurse practitioners who essentially have less schooling to reasonably act independently as physicians. On one side, this trend looks promising as nurse practitioners will be able to master the skills of medical doctors and help solve the great shortage of physicians being experienced today. On the other hand, the quality of services they offer has always been questioned by critics. All in all nurse practitioners as physician extenders is offering a bright career for nurses and is basically an excellent move as far as progression in career ladder is concerned.