Nurse practitioners can practice without physicians' supervision in 22 states, the District of Columbia and in federal government facilities.
Not so in North Carolina.
The nurse practitioners claim that North Carolina is among the 12 most restrictive states for nurse practitioners.
There are bills pending in the North Carolina General Assembly which would eliminate the requirement that nurse practitioners be supervised by a medical doctor.
The nurse practitioners claim that they do not get any real supervision from the doctors who sign off on their certifications and that the only effect of the law is that it increases their overhead unnecessarily.
Doctors vs. Nurses
The medical doctors are fighting back. The North Carolina Medical Society issued a statement pointing out that every physician spends 7 or more years in medical schools and residency programs honing in their skills. The doctors claim that physician supervision helps ensure patients' safety and that the best solution is for the team of healthcare professionals to continue working together under the leadership and supervision of a trained physician.
North Carolina Law for Nurse Practitioners
Under current North Carolina law, a nurse practitioner must meet with her supervising physician twice a year, or at least once a month for the first 6 months she works with him. One nurse practitioner reported that for each nurse practitioner she employs, she must pay her supervising physician $500.00 per month.
The nurses claims that there is no real supervision and that meetings with the doctor are often no more than “making up stuff to talk about”. The nurses will write down information, and the doctor signs it and the nurse then writes the check. The nurses claim that this procedure does not accomplish anything useful. The nurses say that eliminating physician oversight is a way to tackle shortages in primary care.
From the patient's perspective, if a physician signs off as the supervising physician, the patient could hold the physician liable for any malpractice which may occur. Without a supervising physician, the malpractice claim would only be against the nurse practitioner.
On the other hand, in rural areas where medical doctors are scarce, the nurse practitioner may be the only source of healthcare.