What is Collaborating Physician and When Should You Get One?

For millions of Americans, the health provider of choice is quickly becoming a nurse practitioner (NP). They provide access to high-quality health care by blending years of clinical expertise along with extensive medical training. They diagnose and treat health conditions, manage care & promote disease prevention.

In most states, NPs practice independently & provide a wide range of specialties. These can include primary care, specialty care, and acute care services. However, depending on the state in which a NP works, they may be required to work in collaboration with a physician for practice or prescriptive authority.

What is a collaborating physician and why are they needed?

A collaborating physician is a doctor who oversees patient care of nurses and physician assistants. 

Each state regulates the practice environment for its NPs. NPs may work in a Restricted, Reduced, or Full Practice Authority (FPA) state. In a Restricted or Reduced Practice Authority state, NPs require physician oversight for NPs to practice at varying levels.

When should an NP get a collaborating physician?

NPs may need a collaborating physician depending on what state they live in and where they want to practice. What is the best timeline to actually seek a physician? There are two pathways – insurance or a cash based practice.

Insurance Path

Going down the insurance path, NPs will need to do credentialing. If you’re in a state that requires a collaborator, usually some of the insurance providers will require the collaborating physician to be credentialed before you can be credentialed.

If you’re going the insurance route, you may most likely want to get your physician at least a few months before you want to open the door of your practice, because it does take usually 30 to 90 days to get credentialing done. There are credentialing companies that can get it done as efficiently as possible.

Cash Practice

On the flip side, if you’re a cash practice, NPs don’t need the collaborator until you’re ready to open the doors.

If you are going to offer, say, aesthetics or IV hydration you can get your physician a lot closer to the day you’re opening. However, there is often paperwork, setting up accounts, and getting all the different medical supply companies you might be working with. They almost always want to know who your collaborating physician is to do that. So there will still be a little bit of a lead time. Maybe a month or two before you’re opening the door, you need the physician to get everything buttoned down. 

If you’re in the market for a collaborating physician, our partner Collaborating Docs is happy to help you. Schedule a call with one of their Onboarding Consultants to get your FREE quote today.