How Do You Deal with “I Want to See a Doctor”?

What do you do when a patient has the audacity to say, “I want to see a real doctor,” thus calling into question your qualifications?

By Jessica Levinson

Earlier this year, while working the front desk in a specialist’s office that employed PAs, MDs, and DOs, it was a sentence I heard pretty frequently—“I want to see a doctor, not a PA.”

Though we followed company policy and told patients they would be seeing an advanced practitioner during scheduling, and though there was a clearly displayed sign in the waiting room informing patients that the practice employed PAs and NPs, patients would often claim they were not made aware and often said that they never would have scheduled an appointment and that they would not have wasted their time coming to the appointment, if they knew they were not seeing a physician, often in more colorful language.

Having written scores of articles for this very blog about the comparable or better care advanced practitioners provide, I cringed every time—while I also tried to convince patients to keep their appointments and see the advanced practitioner on staff. Sometimes, it worked. Sometimes, it didn’t. Mostly, I wondered how PAs and NPs dealt with the question themselves.

I asked one of the PAs on staff this very question. She said, in summation, “I’m not going to force them to see me. If they want to see a doctor, they’re welcome to. It’s just going to be a few weeks before they can get that appointment.”

As the physician shortage continues to grow and, in turn, to leave gaps in access to care, her sentiment seemed pretty spot on. Often, when scheduling patients, I was able to offer same day appointments with the PA or NP, but would need to look as far as three weeks out for a ten-minute time slot with the MD.

To me, it is more important to have whatever my medical issue is handled by someone who knows more than myself and a Google search, no matter their title. However, some will continue to want to be cared for exclusively by physicians. When they do, how do you find yourself responding? Tell us in the comments below.

Jessica Levinson is’s Social Media Manager and Brand Ambassador, who also moonlights as a best-selling poet and freelance writer.

Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

1 thought on “How Do You Deal with “I Want to See a Doctor”?”

  1. Good morning from Southampton, UK!
    I am an ANP in primary care and have been for the last 19 years working with GP’s and practice nurses.
    I have over these years experienced the same on may occasions and yet I always say the same.. “I am an alternative clinician NOT a substitute for a GP”..

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