When someone thinks of getting medical care, the first person who comes to mind is a doctor. The last person they think of is a nurse or the many other healthcare professionals that could possibly treat them on a day to day basis in those offices. In the small town of Branford there are a few doctors’ offices. All of which that carry a physician, nurses, and a nurse practitioner. One office however, is where the only general practice female nurse practitioner in town is. When you call for an appointment in that office it runs on a day by day basis, but you have to call early because their nurse practitioner is quite popular. Jennifer Scott, ARNP, came into this small town with the practice that branched out not knowing what was going to be in store for her. Since then the abundance of patients has been an overwhelming surprise. It only takes one visit in that office to see that you do not have to carry an MD behind your name to be a great medical professional, because most of the patients here come to see Jennifer.
After speaking with Jennifer in a personal interview it was revealed that she had two very good reasons for not pursuing an MD as opposed to her ARNP license. Jennifer Scott, ARNP said, “The first reason was my age. I was already 30 years old before I started the prerequisites. I didn't want to take 12-15 years to become a medical doctor because it would take me too close to retirement age before I could even get started. The length of time also meant more expenses. It cost me $83,000 to get my degree and you can just about double that or more for a doctor's degree. The second reason was because I knew that I was going to have a difficult time managing a family with four children and didn't want to have to complete a full time residency which would interfere”, (personal communication, October 16, 2011).
The credentials between an ARNP and that of an MD are very different. Not only are the years between nurses and nurse practitioners different, but if they do not meet the criteria that is required of them, they will have to sit for the boards once again. According to Jennifer, “Nurse practitioner credentialing requires Board certification every five years. RN’s have to renew their licenses every two years while doing their continuing medical credit classes (CME’s) which I also have to do on top of my NP CME’s. One must practice a certain number of hours yearly to maintain their credentialing or they must sit for the board exam again,” (personal communication”, October 16, 2011).
The American Nurses Credentialing Center of the American Nurses Association and other professional organizations certify registered nurses with master's degrees based on predetermined standards, including passing a written examination and practice time in a specified area. This national certification provides tangible recognition of professional achievement in a defined functional or clinical area of nursing. It also did not used to be mandatory to be certified but is now a requirement of all new ARNP’s. The fees for the certifications are, “$315 for Certification, for a Retake or Recertification is $195, an Endorsement is $195, for a Verification Request it is $30, for a Replacement Card and Certificate it is $20”, (Anonymous, 2011).
In order for Jennifer Scott ARNP, to renew her license she needs “100 total credit hours of CME in a two-year license cycle (cycles ending in December 31st of each year), a minimum of 20 total credit hours in category 1, and 12 credit hours in the areas of patient safety or risk management either in category 1 or 2”, (personal communication, October 16, 2011). According to Jennifer she can do most of the things a regular physician does. She can write prescriptions and send referrals for patients. Jennifer stated that, “The only practice limitations in the State of Florida that I have are the inability to write controlled substances, sign home health and nursing home orders, and I cannot declare death. I can do everything else a doctor can do based on my individual training and experience”, (personal communication, October 16, 2011). One of the last things I inquired about was whether or not she participated in forums for patients or other health professionals. Although she does not participate in an online forum she does however take the time to write a blog for other ARNP’s and try to answer questions or help them with discovering things in their paths to medicine. “I don't belong to any forums as a nurse practitioner but I do blog about nurse practitioner issues as a way to help influence practice. I also write to my congress and senate to inform them of my opinions and how I think that they should vote on key issues,” (personal communication, October 16, 2011).
The only differences between Jennifer Scott ARNP, and a regular doctor is the big MD behind her name. To some of those patients that does not seem to matter. After seeing the impact that this nurse practitioner has had on her patients and community, it is obvious that regardless of the title she is a great asset to the medical community. She quite possibly will do more for medicine than most doctors will simply because she is family oriented, can relate to struggling to get through school, and truly cares about her patients. That is what the healthcare field needs, more ARNP’s.