July 18, 2008

Nurse Practitioners Provide a Viable Health Care Option


Dear Dr. Gott: I was scheduled for my yearly physical by my physician recently, but, when I arrived at his office, the receptionist told me that I would be seeing his nurse practitioner.

I went into her office, where she did the physical, read my lab reports and made a few suggestions regarding my health. I liked her very much.

I would choose to continue with her as my regular health care person but don't know if this is appropriate.

Dear Reader: A nurse practitioner (NP, APN or APRN) is a registered nurse (RN) who has completed advanced education and training in specialty areas and diagnosis and management of most common disorders. She has at minimum a bachelor's degree in nursing but most professionals, employers and some states require a master's degree and board certification in the chosen specialty. Nurse practitioners can also be accredited through a national board exam similar to some doctors. This changes the letters after their names according to the specialty, such as CPNP for Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner or CFNP for Certified Family Nurse Practitioner.

Nurse practitioners must follow the regulations of the Nurse Practice Act for the state in which they work. They have the ability to dispense most medications.

Most of what doctors can do, nurse practitioners can do. They can diagnose, treat and monitor most illnesses, injuries, infections and chronic diseases. They can even work without the aid of a physician; however, most work in conjunction with one or have an affiliation. Nurse practitioners can also serve as primary health care providers.

I urge anyone interested in learning more about nurse practitioners to visit the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners' Web site at www.acnpweb.org.

Write Dr. Gott c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave. 4th floor, New York, NY 10016.

Originally published by PETER GOTT Newspaper Enterprise Association.

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