crop unrecognizable male doctor with stethoscope
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“When Vernon Langford sees patients, he typically wears a white lab coat with his title — ‘Dr.’ — and his credentials as a nurse practitioner stitched on the front,” Anna Claire Vollers writes at Stateline. “’My credentials are on any jackets I have, the shirts I wear. If I have a name tag, it’s on that,’ said Langford, who works as a primary care provider in Seminole County, Florida. He holds a doctorate of nursing practice, the highest degree available in his field. Like a Ph.D., it confers on him the ‘Dr.’ title, but he says he explains to patients what that means, and how his role and education differ from that of a physician: ‘When I meet anyone, I want to make sure I’m educating them about who I am.’ A Florida bill lawmakers considered this year would have barred Langford and others with similar credentials from using the ‘Dr.’ title in clinical settings. The bill was amended to exclude nurse practitioners before it reached the desk of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who vetoed it without explanation. But Langford, who is president of the Florida Association of Nurse Practitioners, expects the legislation to re-emerge. Under pressure from physician groups, an increasing number of states are weighing similar restrictions. The debate is a symptom of a broader battle in health care: Amid a shortage of doctors and an explosion in the number of nurse practitioners with doctorates, many nursing groups are pushing to expand what nurses can do without physicians’ supervision. Physicians, meanwhile, are pushing to keep nurse practitioners and physician assistants under their oversight, arguing that giving more autonomy to providers with less rigorous training could put patients at risk.” Anna Claire Vollers, “The ‘doctor of nursing practice’ will see you now,” Stateline.

Jeanne Pinder  is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded...