There was an interesting article in my local paper this weekend about nurse practitioners who are lobbying the State to change the rules, and no longer require physicians to supervise their actions.

According to the article, “Virginia is one of 24 states to require a formal relationship, documented in writing, between a nurse practitioner and a physician.” This Document reflects the relationship that the MD supervises the NP.

According to the Roanoke Times and its sources, “nurse practitioners can diagnose and treat without physician involvement in 22 states and the District of Columbia. Four states require some form of a relationship between doctors and nurse practitioners but do not require documentation.”

I understand all sides of the issue.. I do. But please realize that physicians have a great deal more training. Wouldn’t you want more training, more experience, more expertise diagnosing and treating you?

Or, is the supervision a mere technicality where doctors don’t question the NP’s diagnosis and treatment, just signs off and send a second bill? In this scenario there would be no extra eyes, no experience, just a blank check mark approving treatment regardless.

Or should we allow NP to stand on their own and face the consequences of mis-diagnosis, mistake, or malpractice? To date, in Virginia, they can hide behind the doctor’s coat as the diagnosis was approved by someone else.

I am not sure what the right answer is, but I am glad there is a dialogue about it. There should be when it comes to our health.

Lauren Ellerman
Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at