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What is a Nurse Practitioner?

  • Category: Primary Care
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Baton Rouge General
What is a Nurse Practitioner?

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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