Student Health Services
Holloway Hall

What is a Nurse Practitioner?

Nurse practitioners have been in existence since Loretta Ford and Dr. Henry Silver’s involvement in the mid 1960’s.  Nurse practitioners are registered nurses who have obtained additional and extensive advanced education, and have passed a national certification exam.  As highly skilled, advanced practice nurses, we are able to provide a full range of health care services including diagnosing and treating acute illnesses and managing chronic illnesses like diabetes, asthma, and high blood pressure. 

That sounds like you’re describing a doctor.

Some of the care we provide our patients has traditionally been provided by a physician. But we also provide some care that is unique to nurse practitioners, because we bring our experience and education as nurses.  We work collaboratively with physicians, as well as other health care workers such as physical therapists, dieticians, counselors, and the like.  Studies have shown that a nurse practitioner can provide about 80 to 90% of a patient’s primary health care needs.  When a patient’s needs are out of the scope of our practice, we make the appropriate referrals and work collaboratively to fill those needs. 

Why would a patient want to see a nurse practitioner?

Many patients prefer a nurse practitioner for their primary care needs for a variety of reasons.  Nurse practitioners focus on optimal health and preventative measures to insure wellness.  By giving you the information that you need, we promote self-care.  We take the time to discuss your concerns or worries.  We focus on your health problems and how they might affect your life and your family. According to the government study. The Office of Technology Assessment found that not only did nurse practitioners provide equivalent quality of care, they were better at providing services related to preventive health care and communication.  We have a high level of patient satisfaction also.  

Can you practice independently of a physician?

Some nurse practitioners own their own practice. The nurse practitioner, by law, must have a legal collaborative agreement with a physician who agrees to consult with the nurse practitioner on cases which are out of her scope of practice. Other nurse practitioners are employees of certain institutions or of physicians, or are partners in a practice.