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  • Writer's picturekjrusseth

Clarifying Roles in Healthcare: Understanding the Contributions of Physicians and Other Providers

As a dual board-certified adult psychiatrist and child adolescent psychiatrist, my journey in the medical field has been extensive and multifaceted. With an undergraduate degree, four years in medical school, a combined six years in adult psychiatry residency and child psychiatry fellowship, plus additional training in various therapies and in integrative medicine, my path reflects the depth and complexity of physician training. My experience spans inpatient, day treatment, and outpatient care in academic, public, and private hospital systems.


Despite this background, I often find myself being mistaken for a nurse, psychologist, or counselor. While these roles are crucial in our healthcare system, they are distinct from that of a physician. This common misperception is not something I blame anyone for, but it does raise concerns about public understanding of the training, depth, breadth, and specific roles of different healthcare providers.


There is a nuanced difference between a physician and other care providers, a distinction often blurred in the eyes of those seeking care. This blurring is not necessarily due to intentional deceit by other healthcare providers. However, there seems to be a convenience in appearing "physician-like" without correcting these misconceptions. Conversely, when physicians attempt to clarify their specific training and role, they risk being perceived as arrogant or pretentious. I admit to occasionally falling into the category of those who 'let it go' – not correcting others feels much easier, though it never sits quite right with me.


This dilemma underscores a broader issue in our healthcare system: the need for clearer understanding and communication about the various roles and expertise of healthcare professionals. As we navigate this complex landscape, it’s crucial to recognize the unique contributions of each role while maintaining transparency and education about what differentiates one healthcare professional from another.

If you are interested in delving deeper into this topic to understand the specific differences between physicians and other healthcare professionals, I recommend reading an article from AMA News Wire, 'What's the difference between physicians and nurse practitioners?' which provides a detailed exploration of the training, roles, and impact of these distinct professions in our healthcare system.

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