Comparing Nurse Practitioner Services to Doctors
Co-Editor-in-Chief, Tracy E. Austin, MD
Thursday, January 28, 2010 - 07:01 PM
Services compared to Doctors
There are times when a doctor will be called away from his or her office so that another patient can be treated at the hospital. The doctor will not be back to the office for several hours. What does this mean for a patient who has an appointment at the office? If a nurse practitioner is available, the receptionist or nurse can give the patient an option to see that person. Most patients will be fine with this, but some may be more confused as to the qualifications that a nurse practitioner has in comparison to their regular doctor.
This is an everyday occurrence for patients. The Arizona Republic newspaper reported in February 2009, “During the past five years, the number of nurse practitioners in the United States has increased by nearly 40 percent, to 125,000, according to estimates by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.” It is thought this jump is because of a doctor shortage and having a nurse practitioner is a way to provide health services to everyone when needed. Many have little or no information about nurse practitioners and just as many have misconceptions.
What is a Nurse Practitioner?
A Nurse practitioner is a medical professional that cares for a patient with a focus on the patient’s overall well-being. They make diagnoses, ordering test and prescribing medicine. A major element is they do not need to and are not required to consult a doctor. Nurse practitioners are working in many types of practices from family health to dermatology. Even though these professionals are not restricted in practicing medicine, if a nurse practitioner comes across a condition they have questions about, they may consult with another medical expert. Nurse practitioners are regulated by the state they are licensed in and each state varies.
Nurse practitioners actually perform 80 percent of required medical procedures. Another title for a nurse practitioner is an advanced practice nurse. Nurse practitioner duties also include:
Taking referrals from other health professional and making referrals
Recommending physical therapy
Conducting annual physicals
Counseling and educating patients
Reading lab tests and x-rays
Healthy promotions for the community and lifestyles
Are Nurse Practitioners Qualified?
Yes, nurse practitioners are qualified. These medical professionals are more than registered nurses because of an advanced education and training. They work with doctors and have qualifications to treat acute and chronic illnesses. Generally, nurse practitioners have Masters degrees, while others have begun earning their doctorate. As of now, this is acceptable; however, doctorates will be required for nurse practitioners starting in 2015. These medical professions have hundreds of hands-on training opportunities with supervision and work under medical guidelines.
Doctor vs. Nurse Practitioner
Following is a summary of the differences between a doctor’s education, qualification, responsibilities, and restrictions:
Doctors have more extensive education and training as well as having more responsibility.
Doctors are required to see a certain amount of patients in a day whereas nurse practitioners have a reputation for a dedicated bedside manner, which allows them more time with each patient.
Research has shown that nurse practitioners cost less than doctors. Nurse practitioners also might cost less because they try to dispense fewer prescriptions.
Nurse practitioners are just another option when it comes to receiving health care. Doctors are often the first choice with patients because of the extended qualifications they have obtained.
Nurse practitioners are more often affiliated with patient advocacy activities in comparison with doctors although doctors often participate in community organizations as well.
Respect for Nurse Practitioners
When patients are told that the doctor is out, but the nurse practitioners is available, there are mixed reactions. Often the patient has the option to reschedule to see the regular doctor instead. Nurse practitioners notice a lack of respect from every angle. Yet, when a patient is seen by and then experiences how a nurse practitioner is, they usually find that nurse practitioners are just as worthy as the doctors.
Normally, nurse practitioners work with the doctor at the office, yet it is becoming popular for nurse practitioners to open their own offices. This gives them independence to create a location where they can create an atmosphere that allows them to concentrate on patients and provide same day appointments.
Even though nurse practitioners are sometimes considered a substitute for doctors, doctors are more qualified; however, they both provide quality care. Statistics show that there are currently more than two million nursing jobs which makes it the largest area in the health care profession concerning jobs.
When visiting a medical office and having the choice between a doctor or a nurse practitioner, a patient can now decide with more confidence knowing that a nurse practitioner is a very qualified medical professional. For referenced and resourced information, go to http://www.smilemd.com/nurse-practitioner/comparing-nurse-practitioner-services-to-doctors.aspx
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. Patient versions of medical & dental articles are library referenced for online publication by co-editors-in-chief Judy J. Johnson DDS and Tracy E. Austin, MD. Dr. Johnson is a member of The New York Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Dr. Austin is a member of the A.M.A., American Medical Writers Association and the Association of Health Care Journalists.