What the Term "Mid-level Provider" Means, and Why You Shouldn't Use It

The Term is Not Preferred by Most Clinicians

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If you hear or read the term "mid-level provider," please note that the term is not the preferred, current terminology to describe certain medical professionals. However, in case you do hear this terminology used somewhere, and have landed here after looking up the word, below is a brief definition of what type of healthcare professionals used to be, and sometimes still may erroneously be referred to as a "mid-level provider." It's not that these healthcare professionals do not like their professional role in healthcare.

Many feel that the term "mid-level provider" is a misleading, impersonal term that does not accurately describe their profession(s). 

The term "mid-level provider", sometimes referred to simply as a "mid-level", is a term sometimes used to describe NPs, PAs, and CRNAs as a group or category of healthcare professionals. The healthcare professionals who often get (reluctantly) lumped into this category of medical professionals are typically a masters-prepared, (or higher) clinical medical professional who provides advanced, direct patient care, sometimes under the supervision of a physician. These advanced clinicians can examine patients, diagnose them, and provide some treatments, independently in many states, but in some states, they may have to practice in collaboration with a licensed physician. In addition to the care being provided by physicians, this type of advanced patient care is provided in almost any practice setting today, from hospitals to medical offices, by nurse practitioners (NP), physician assistants (PA), and CRNAs.

 

The phrase "mid-level provider" probably was intended to give a name to the group of clinicians who are not physicians, and in a professional sense, practice at a level of clinical authority somewhat "in between" that of physicians and some other types of nurses, techs, and allied professionals, based on licensing, certifications, education, and clinical authority.

 Essentially, advanced practice clinicians are those who are more advanced (educationally, and clinically), and have a broader scope of practice than some other types of nurses and clinicians. However since NPs, PAs, and CRNAs all have at least a master's level of education, and are not an MD/DO, they often get categorized as a group of "mid-level providers" or "advanced practice clinicians" or non-physician providers, especially when discussing staffing plans or recruiting strategies, for example. However, none of those terms is, understandably, very well-loved by any of the medical professionals.

Therefore, whenever possible, use precise titles when referring to clinicians, addressing as PAs or NPs specifically, as opposed to a generalized term. 

Also Known As: advanced practice clinicians, advanced practice providers, physician extenders (also not particularly preferred terms)

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