A nurse practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse (RN) who has completed advanced education and training in the diagnosis and management of common medical conditions, including chronic illnesses. Nurse practitioners provide a broad range of health care services in all fifty states. They provide some of the same care provided by physicians and maintain close working relationships with physicians. They train in a specialized area, such as pediatrics or family practice. A nurse practitioner can serve as a patient's regular health care provider, though in our office they work in conjunction with the family's regular pediatrician. Their specialty began in the late 1960s when there were predictions of physician shortages and nurses with higher level training were afforded the ability to evaluate and treat patients with varying degrees of supervision by physicians.
The core philosophy of the field is individualized care with priorities in prevention, wellness and patient education. This can mean fewer prescriptions and less expensive treatments. Informing patients about their health care and encouraging them to participate in decisions are central to the care provided by NPs.
We use Nurse Practitioners for the following:
- Providing well-child care, including screening and immunizations
- Diagnosing and treating acute illnesses, infections and injuries
- Diagnosing, treating and monitoring chronic diseases (e.g., asthma)
- Obtaining medical histories and conducting physical examinations
- Collaborating with physicians and other health professionals as needed, including providing referrals Ordering, performing and interpreting diagnostic studies (e.g., lab tests, x-rays, EKGs)
- Prescribing most medications (our Midlevels do not prescribe controlled substances, such as those used to treat ADHD... please see your physician for those visits)
- Prescribing physical therapy and other rehabilitation treatments
- Counseling and educating patients on health behaviors
In summary, Nurse Practitioners provide high-quality, cost-effective individualized care that is comparable to the health care provided by physicians. Their services are usually covered by insurance providers. At Pediatric Partners, we use them as an extension of medical services provided by our physicians. They staff our walk-in clinics. You may schedule appointments as always with your usual pediatrician, but you are also able to schedule appointments with them. This increases flexibility in scheduling for our patients. We hope that patients and their families agree that the mid-level providers add another valuable aspect to Pediatric Partners!