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New Nomenclature for Health Care Professionals

How important is it to be recognized in your profession? The Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM) is changing important health care language for other institutions to follow suite.  Starting this year, SHM is discontinuing the terms “allied health,” “non-physician provider,” “physician extender,” and “mid-level” on their future material to more properly identify their members. SMH will now use names for individual groups including “physician assistants,” “nurse practitioners,” and “pharmacists.”

Rather than giving professionals titles that define them by “what they are not” (for example, “non-physician provider”) SHM is revisiting the language used in the medical field to recognize physician assistants (PA), nurse practitioners (NP), and pharmacists as critical parts of the teams that deliver exceptional care to patients.

Upon describing her interactions with physician hospitalist colleagues, hospital medicine group leaders, and quality officers, Tracy Cardin (SHM NP/PA Committee Chair) says, “I often wonder, after these interactions, when I and my other NP/PA colleagues will be seen as we wish to be seen: as highly valued and productive members of the hospital medicine team.” She continues, “When I attempt to analyze this frustration I believe the foundation of migration is simply this: language.  Language is powerful.  I am not a nurse.  I am a nurse practitioner.  I am not a ‘physician extender’ anymore than a cornerback on the football team is a ‘quarterback extender.’  I am not a ‘non-physician’ anymore than a catcher is a ‘non-pitcher.’  I am not a ‘mid level.’”

Though the transition to using new terms may practically take time within each hospital’s internal systems, databases, and registration systems, SMH believes that the need to properly address members of the hospitalist family outweighs the need for convenience.

Sources: 1, 2

Image: Flazingo Photos

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