What is a Nurse Practitioner, and Why Should I See One?
A Nurse Practitioner (NP) is a highly educated health care provider who approaches health and illness, care and cure, from the unique perspective of the nursing profession. While an NP is a Registered Nurse (RN), her/his education far surpasses the level required for RN licensure.
Our JeanAnn Schwark, M.S., F.N.P.-C., is a Nurse Practitioner. She completed a master’s degree in nursing as well as a post-graduate certification, both in Arizona.
Learn more about JeanAnn
To practice as an NP, the most advanced level of nursing, a nurse must:
- have a Doctorate or a master’s degree in nursing
- complete an educational program in a clinical specialty
- successfully pass a national certification exam in that specialty
NPs are required to continue their educations and recertify periodically to maintain a high level of excellence.
In practical terms, an NP may work very much like an MD. She will conduct a history and physical exam on a patient, order and interpret appropriate diagnostic tests, develop a treatment plan, prescribe necessary medications, perform needed procedures, and conduct ongoing follow-up and treatment management with the patient.
Primary Care Provider
An NP may be a Primary Care Provider (PCP), or practice in one of many clinical specialties. She may work with physicians or work in her own practice. She may work in an office/clinic, hospital, emergency department, critical care or community setting.
An NP, then, treats a person, not merely a disease. She will partner with her patient in managing health concerns. This is done not by simply handing out a quick prescription while rushing out of the exam room, but rather with time spent listening, educating, counseling, and finding solutions.
Many years of published research have demonstrated the importance of NPs as healthcare providers, especially in the changing healthcare landscape. These studies have shown that NPs provide care that is equal to, or in some cases superior to, that of MDs with regard to quality, safety and effectiveness, and patient satisfaction.
Advancement in Medical Science and Technology
Medical science and technology are advancing in ways that are difficult to comprehend. Physicians are moving into ever more complex, specialized roles, practicing at their very highest levels. In this rapidly changing environment, Nurse Practitioners are emerging as the healthcare providers of choice for many patients, meeting the needs for primary care and specialty care.