Are Patients Obligated to Receive Care from NP Students?

Nurse practitioner students have it pretty tough. As an NP student you're a novice, constantly unsure of yourself, asking questions, needy and feeling out of place. Clinicals are long and demandingChallenging yourself to learn and take the knowledge you've gained in the classroom and applying it to real, live patients is never comfortable. 

In my NP program, I thought a lot about my own learning experience and sought to maximize clinical time as much as possible. Most of my patients were very understanding. Having solid relationships with precepting physicians, patients typically welcomed the fact that their PCP accepted students and rarely refused to be seen by me. 

Recently, however, I have been on the receiving end of a few medical services. Living near a teaching hospital, the prospect of receiving care at this particular facility made me nervous. I assumed, however that I could simply refuse care from a student or resident should I choose, but my provider told me this was not the case. The facility did not allow patients to refuse care from medical residents. 

This assertion seemed a bit off to me. As a patient, shouldn't I have some say in who was treating me? I took the issue to Google to see what I could find. While my preliminary research didn't identify any determinate answer on the issue, I did find a plethora of articles positioning that it's a patient's "duty" to allow medical residents and students to treat them. After all, if no one accepts care from providers in training, how will we educate the next generation of healthcare providers?

While I understand this sentiment and appreciate it as a former nurse practitioner student, I don't think I would go so far as to say it's a patient's "duty" to allow students to evaluate or treat them. When the tables are turned and as healthcare providers we find ourselves firmly planted in the patient role we quickly realize there's a lot that plays in to a patient's circumstances beyond just the clinical. Fears, emotions, past experiences and current circumstances are realized. A patient's situation may make the prospect of care from students one of anxiety or fear. Alternately, as a patient, one might be totally up for helping a student out. 

Even as a nurse practitioner who was once in training myself, I don't believe it's a patient's "duty" to interact with students in the healthcare environment. As paying customers, patients should have the ultimate say in their interactions with providers in training. In my experience, most will gladly allow student participation in some capacity, at the very least observation. Those who don't have justified reasons. 

Do you think evaluation or treatment by students should be optional in the patient care setting?

 

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