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Doctor, or nurse? Understanding the complexities of medical titles

Dr. Moma is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse
Pictures from CDPHE records regarding Dr. Moma
Posted at 11:59 PM, Apr 21, 2021

COLORADO SPRINGS — Even though Dr. Sylvienash Moma's COVID-19 vaccination clinic was enrolled under the title of "Dr. Moma's LLC," she is actually an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse. That is not the same as a physician.

The clinic is being investigated by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for allegedly mishandling thousands of COVID-19 vaccine doses.

CLICK HERE to read the suspension letter from CDPHE.

Doctor, or nurse? Understanding the complexities of medical titles
Dr. Moma outside of the Satellite Hotel on Monday, April 19.

The President of Physicians for Patient Protection is Rebekah Bernard MD, who spoke to News5 virtually from Fort Myers, Florida. Physicians for Patient Protection is a grassroots organization made up of physicians, retired physicians, medical students, and residents who advocate for physician led care for patients, and promote transparency. She explained the intricacies of differing medical titles. "It's not easy enough anymore just to look for someone that calls themselves a doctor. We have doctors of all sorts of other things that are not necessarily physicians... But the truth is that we're trained very differently. We have a different level of education," said Bernard.

Bernard said physicians attend four years of medical school, a minimum of three years of residency training, and by the time they can practice independently they have at least 15,000 hours of supervised training. She went on to say that nurses get their registered nurse degree, and can continue on to get their masters or doctorate degrees. She said it takes about 500 clinical hours for a masters, and another 1,000 hours for a doctorate. Bernard said the level of care between nurse practitioners can vary.

She said the first thing a patient should look for is whether or not a doctor is a physician, or a doctor of something else, like nursing practice. "There's not always transparency about what doctor really means, and many times, the public is confused," said Bernard.

Bernard also pointed to the initials following someone's name as indicators of their title. Nurses can have a variety of letters, like NP, APRN, or DNP, according to Bernard. She said physicians have MD or DO following their names, which have the same qualifications and standards.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse
A page from Dr. Moma's CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Program Provider Agreement.

CLICK HERE to read through Dr. Moma's CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Program Provider Agreement.

Bernard said Physicians for Patient Protection find certain issues regarding medical titles concerning. "The Advanced Practice Nurse has been around since about 1965, but it has really accelerated in the last few years. And what we're seeing now is an increase in independent practices where nurses are getting an advanced degree, and then opening their own office, hanging a shingle, and sometimes even calling themselves a doctor, if they've received a doctorate degree in nursing," said Bernard.

When asked specifically about the investigation at Dr. Moma's clinic, Bernard stressed that "most nurses are extremely meticulous, and most good nurses are actually going to hold a doctor's feet to the fire and make sure that we're doing everything right. So, I believe that this is an outlier."

News5 also spoke with Jackie Dones, a caregiver who lives at the Satellite Hotel and was vaccinated by Dr. Moma. She described Dr. Moma as a nice person, but did say she saw syringes sitting out on a desk. This description of the facility is echoed and expanded upon in state records, which also provide pictures.

Dones wanted to make sure that what happened at Dr. Moma's clinic is not seen as a reflection of the people at the Satellite Hotel. "I love living here, I love the people here, and they are not responsible for other people's actions," said Dones.

CLICK HERE to read through emails released by CDPHE regarding this investigation.

PREVIOUS REPORTING:
Dr. Sylvienash Moma declines to speak at press conference, but exclusively sits down with News 5