Trying to figure out all the “players” on your health care team can be confusing. Yet, in today’s environment, finding a health care practice without a nurse practitioner (NP) is rare. Most local clinics, hospitals, care facilities, public health services, and specialty practices employ one or more nurse practitioners.
The nurse practitioner movement dates back to 1965. That is when Dr. Loretta Ford, a nurse, and Dr. Henry Silver, a physician, established the first nurse practitioner program at the University of Colorado. Their goal was to better meet the health care needs of local residents.
Today, there are over 234,000 nurse practitioners practicing throughout the United States. With the primary care physician shortage and an expanding emphasis on health promotion and disease prevention, the number of nurse practitioners will continue to grow.
Nurse practitioners are qualified health care providers with master’s degrees or doctorates. They also take advanced clinical training beyond their initial nursing preparation. Most nurse practitioners had extensive experience as registered nurses before pursuing additional education. Nurse practitioners practice under the rules and regulations of the state in which they are licensed. Additionally, they are required to be board-certified in a specialty area. They are also held to the highest national standards of continuing their education and credentialing.
Physicians and nurse practitioners are similar in that both diagnose, treat and manage acute and chronic diseases, order and interpret diagnostic tests such as lab tests and x-rays and prescribe medications. They differ in that physician education focuses in great depth on the study of disease and how to cure them. NP education focuses on both care and cure, with special emphases on health promotion, disease prevention and health education.
In reality, physicians and nurse practitioners overlap with regard to care and knowledge but also complement each other’s unique expertise . What many patients and families may not realize is the degree of behind-the-scenes collaboration between nurse practitioners and physicians that occurs in regular practice.
In conclusion, the NP is an important member of the health care team. They are able to provide timely, high-quality, cost-effective, and comprehensive care in partnership with you, the patient. For more information about The Roskamp Neurology Clinic, visit our about page or call us directly at: 941-256-8019.
By Cheryl Brandi, DNSc, APRN
Cheryl Brandi is a board-certified adult nurse practitioner involved in the clinical diagnosis, management, treatment and followup of adult neurology patients, mostly those with neuro-cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementing processes. She has also been involved in grass-roots community education efforts for early detection of these disorders. Cheryl Brandi has been certified as assessor for some clinical trials involving cognitive impairment and multiple sclerosis, and has spoken at national, state and local levels to professional and lay groups on topics related to dementia.