Viewpoint: Expand NP and PA practice to combat physician burnout

Delegating work to nurse practitioners and physician assistants will relieve physician burnout, according to an op-ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer by David Woods, PhD, former editor-in-chief of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Growing evidence shows NPs improve patient outcomes and care access, Dr. Woods wrote, but the American Medical Association is still opposed to expanding their roles. NPs in Pennsylvania are prohibited from treating patients or prescribing medications without physician supervision. 

Dr. Woods also suggested physicians may be playing a role in their own burnout problems by guarding against NPs' and PAs' encroachment on "their long-held hegemony and leadership." Physicians have suggested systemic changes to address burnout, such as workflow redesign and improved communication, but they should also be open to sharing their work, Dr. Woods wrote.

Expanding NPs' and PAs' roles will help not only physicians, but also patients, Dr. Woods concluded.

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