Many Patients Prefer Nurses to Doctors: "Many Patients Prefer Nurses to Doctors
By Daniel DeNoon
WebMD Feature Reviewed By Gary Vogin, MD
April 4, 2002 -- If you see a nurse practitioner instead of a doctor, will you get proper care? Yes, a British study says -- and odds are you'll like it better.
Since the days of Florence Nightingale, there's been a debate over what a nurse should be. Trained nurse practitioners offer primary care. And that care appears to be just as good as what doctors can provide, according to an article in the April 6 issue of the British Medical Journal.
University of Bristol researchers reviewed all published studies comparing the primary care offered by nurse practitioners to that of doctors. The findings are remarkably consistent. Nurses spent more time with patients. Nurses conducted more tests. Patients did no better or worse when they saw a nurse instead of a doctor -- but they were more satisfied with their care.
'For those kinds of patients in the study -- those wishing same-day medical care -- nurse practitioners provide a very good standard of care,' study leader Chris Salisbury, MD, tells WebMD. 'I wouldn't want people to read too much into that and think they can completely replace doctors with nurses. Complicated psychological problems, longstanding illnesses, multiple drug treatments -- there are many things that require a doctor's training.'
Jan Towers, PhD, isn't surprised by the findings. A certified nurse practitioner and director of health policy for the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, Towers notes that certification as a nurse practitioner requires six years of medical training.
'Nurses are taught to take good, complete patient histories,' Towers tells WebMD. 'Eighty-five percent of any diagnosis is getting a good history. Nurses are taught to do that comprehensively. And as for patients liking nurses better -- well, we do a lot of patient education and spend a lot of time ex"