Nurse Practitioner Elected Medical Staff President

Rebecca Hendren, for HealthLeaders Media , February 8, 2011

Donaldson now holds the quarterly medical staff meetings away from the hospital in a local restaurant and enjoys excellent attendance. Unlike most medical staff meetings, the event includes any member of the medical staff, whether physicians, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant.

"For a long time, we looked a lot at other hospitals to see what happened," says Donaldson. "When I look at other hospitals, I find that very few places have it that non-physicians can be members of the medical staff hierarchy."

Donaldson recommends other hospitals follow Ellenville Regional's lead. Anyone who has the capability or qualifications to run should be allowed to run if they are a member of the medical staff and meet the appropriate criteria. "Folks are doing such a large part of the job," he says. "Why wouldn't you want to get their input into what's going on?"

Donaldson doesn't spend much time worrying about hierarchy or turf wars. He's too busy getting on with patient care and helping the hospital experience a financial turnaround that's seen the ER expanded by 50% in the last five years.

Donaldson quotes his first physician collaborator, who once noted turf wars are for politicians.

"The people who are actually in the field doing the work are happy to have a colleague alongside them doing the same work in the same manner," he says. "It's not the people in the field who are making these comments and fighting over turf. They're trying to get their patients taken care of. It's the people in the medical societies who makes those battles."

Look at what happened at Ellenville, he says. Turf wars don't have to be a distraction. Clearly, this hospital has collaborative practice figured out.

Rebecca Hendren is a senior managing editor at HCPro, Inc. in Danvers, MA. She edits and manages The Leaders' Lounge blog for nurse managers. Email her at
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5 comments on "Nurse Practitioner Elected Medical Staff President"

Lisa Sams MSN, RNC (3/25/2011 at 4:51 PM)
Congratulations, this is such an important step for patients and families. Care can only be improved by high functioning interdisciplinary teams and what many consumers feel when they spend time with an Advanced Practice Nurse is they are treated as a whole person. Nursing continues to research and enrich clinical care through this view.

VBA (3/19/2011 at 1:39 PM)
Regarding medical management, the individual makes more difference than whether they are a physician or a nurse or a tech or anyone. A leader is a leader. With respect to the management of the critically ill patient and performing intubations, central lines, cracking a chest, cardioversion, and performing many other tasks, I am very concerned about not having a trained emergency physician in the emergency department. A nurse practitioner or physician assistant can do an amazing job for 90% of the patients who come to the ED, but there is a difference in the training both in content and duration between the two specialties (NP, PA is definitely a specialty and are amazingly skilled positions). its similar to a computer programmer and a the hardware engineer; both very skilled, but different talents and knowledge sets. They are not substitutes of each other and can be very dangerous when someone comes to the ED with a true emergency to not have the right person there to help them.

Susan Johnson (3/18/2011 at 11:06 PM)
I'm sorry, but when I go to an emergency room I expect their to be a doctor on-site. Maybe a nurse can handle many/most of the things that go on in an ER, but its ridiculous that there's absolutely no ER doctors on staff and its all nurses and PAs. Thats extremely dangerous to let these folks practice solo without supervision. An ER doctor has more than 4 times the training that an emergency NP or PA gets. We are not talking about a clinic where people treat cough and runny nose. The name is EMERGENCY for a reason and we need the BEST trained people we can get in there. I will not be coming to that hospital anytime soon and I'd advise everyone else to steer clear of it.




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