Meditations On The Term “Provider”

We have touched on this topic before, so I will be brief. Check this out. In previous posts, we have shared the emotions of some blogging physicians who get ticked off when they are referred to as “Providers.” This time around, Dr. Jennifer Weiss brings greater clarity to why physicians should fight actively against being referred to by this term. She offers several good reasons, including:

  • The fact that the term was originally conjured up by Federal Law, which uses it to lump physicians in with all kinds of other “professions,” many of which have nothing to do with the practice of medicine. Many of which don’t require a license. Etc.  
  • The perspective that physicians are not the only ones that should be offended by this terminology schema. How would you like to be referred to as a “Mid-Level Provider?” Midway between what and what???
  • The very troublesome historical allusion that as the Nazi’s began to close the loop around the neck of Germany’s Jewish population, one of the first things that they did was to deny a Jewish doctor the right to hold himself out as Ein Arzt, a physician. The mandated substitution term was “Behandler” which translates loosely as, you guessed it, “provider.”  

Bottom Line. Yup. I am with Dr. Weiss. Words matter. AND. American physicians are currently under enough stress that they don’t need their profession to be traded down by being referred to with a generic, make that offensive, term.  

BUT. Here’s the really ironic part. There has been a widespread movement afoot in the pharmaceutical industry over the past few years. Toward what? Toward substituting the term “Health Care Provider,” or even “HCP,” for when we used to use the term “Doctor.” Why? To avoid offending NP’s, PA’s, etc.  

We thought we were being politically correct. Are we?

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