Because Donaldson admits patients to the hospital, the hospital gave him attending status. After he joined the hospital, physicians voted to give equal rights to nurse practitioners on the medical staff, and that means, he says, "you are equal to a doctor as far as privileges at the facility and within the medical staff."
When he's not in the hospital he retreats to his nearby home, with the mountains as scenery and no neighbors nearby. He still thinks about healthcare, though. He is a volunteer pilot for an organization that helps transport patients to hospitals, using his own six-seater Cessna 210.
While Donaldson has certainly made inroads in how nurse practitioners are perceived in Ellenville, it's still a national problem, he says. He's says he's still fighting turf wars. "There's a huge medical lobby out there, and they got a huge amount of dollars; they don't really want to hear that nurse practitioners are doing what docs have done," Donaldson says.
In the meantime, he wants to beat the drum about what Ellenville Regional Hospital has done with its administrative structure; i.e., having a nurse practitioner in charge of the Emergency Department. "The community knows what I'm doing, and I'm on the radio every month with the local disk jockey and talk about what's happening in the emergency room," he says. "We've gotten past why a nurse practitioner is in charge in this community because I market myself. I am Bob Donaldson, a nurse practitioner."
This article appears in the December 2011 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.