It’s a scenario many people have experienced.
You call to schedule a doctor’s appointment and you are told that
it will be a two-week wait ---
or --- you can see a nurse practitioner right away. Your first instinct might
be to say “no thank you” but that’s probably because
you’re just not sure what a nurse practitioner is. You’d be
surprised. In recent years, the profession has gained increasing respect
from patients and physicians alike.
Nurse practitioners are licensed clinicians who can perform many of the
duties traditionally carried out by physicians. This includes conducting
physical exams, ordering tests, diagnosing and treating illnesses, and
prescribing medications. Their skills are a blend of nursing and primary
care treatment, and most have completed a master’s or doctoral degree
program in medicine.
Many NPs focus on specific patient populations, including pediatrics, gerontology,
obstetrics and gynecology, cardiovascular or oncology (cancer). Some NPs
are independent practitioners while others work with a physician or hospital group.
Research shows that NPs provide high quality healthcare. According to the
American Association of Nurse Practitioners, patients who are being treated
by an NP are better informed about their health issues and have fewer
hospitalizations and unnecessary ER visits.
So, the next time you are given a choice, see an NP and find out why 870
million Americans visit one every year for their healthcare needs.
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