With the growing demand for medical services, certified nurse practitioners have become an integral part of the primary care practice. MD or NP? When you’re burning up with fever or doubled over with stomach cramps, it doesn’t matter what letters come after your healthcare provider’s name. All you want is someone to end your misery.
Both medical doctors and nurse practitioners—nurses who have completed graduate-level studies and up to 700 additional hours of supervised clinical work—are trained to diagnose your illness and offer you relief.
So, which one should you choose? If you’re like most patients, whoever will see you first.
|Erin R. Scott, ANP-BC|
More than likely, it will be a nurse practitioner. With the continuing shortage of primary care providers and more Americans gaining access to broader services through healthcare reform, physicians are turning to nurse practitioners for their expertise and support. Having an NP on staff to take care of same-day appointments allows doctors to spend more time treating sicker patients with more complicated medical issues.
For patients, it means faster care when they need it most. Just like internists and family medicine specialists, nurse practitioners can fill prescriptions, conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat common acute illnesses and injuries, order X-rays and laboratory tests, manage high blood pressure, diabetes and other chronic conditions, and refer patients to specialists as needed.
Studies have shown the care provided by NPs is equal to physician-provided care. Introduced in the mid-1960s, nurse practitioners have slowly gained recognition and acceptance as a critical component of the healthcare system. When I completed my training in 1976, a lot of people—and even some doctors—still didn’t know what a nurse practitioner was.
Today, patients are comfortable seeing nurse practitioners. They understand the benefit of having timelier access to quality medical care. They can get immediate issues resolved and, if necessary, make an appointment for a follow-up visit with a doctor. Stomach flu or urinary tract infection, if you need relief, we’re here to help.
Erin Scott is a certified adult nurse practitioner at Beaufort Memorial Lowcountry Medical Group. To schedule an appointment, call 843-770-0404.
Photos courtesy of Summer 2014 issue of Living Well