The role of a nurse practitioner
Jacqueline Agenbroad is a women’s health care nurse practitioner at the Women’s Center at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix, Ariz.
Question: My physician’s office recently added a nurse practitioner to the staff. What kind of training is required for a nurse practitioner, and what medical care can he or she provide?
Answer: Though many patients are accustomed to seeing a doctor for their care, nurse practitioners are rapidly becoming an important part of health care and can provide many of the same services that physicians offer. Today, there are nearly 150,000 nurse practitioners in the U.S. who focus on a variety of specialties, including family health, prenatal care, routine women’s care and pediatrics.
Nurse practitioners (NPs) are registered nurses who have undergone additional training to expand their knowledge in the areas of diagnosis and treatment. They have master’s degrees in their chosen specialty, and generally focus on accommodating basic health care needs, like assisting patients with disease management and promoting healthy lifestyles and illness prevention.
While NPs are not typically involved in curing complex medical conditions, they do evaluate, diagnose and treat acute and chronic illnesses, and can prescribe medications and other therapies in a variety of health care settings. More than one-third of licensed NPs work in physician offices, and others provide care through public health organizations, community centers, schools and hospitals.
NPs are a cost-effective and vital part of today’s health care team, and their participation in patient care will continue to expand as demand for quality health care grows. The addition of a nurse practitioner to your doctor’s staff gives you access to yet another medical expert, making it easier for you to receive care when you need it.