What Does a Nurse Practitioner Do? Here’s Why they Can Be a Great Primary Care Provider

nurse practitioner appreciation week

The second week of November is recognized as Nurse Practitioner Week by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP).

Nearly ten of our medical providers across both of our locations are nurse practitioners. Patients often refer to them as “doctors” (though Dr. Halstrom is our clinic’s only MD). This is a common point of misunderstanding, making this week a great time to highlight the education, experience, and service nurse practitioners are able to provide.

What education do Nurse Practitioners have?

Nurse practitioners undergo extensive training, testing, and licensure requirements in order to be licensed in Minnesota.

To become a nurse practitioner, one must first obtain a bachelor’s degree (to first become an RN or registered nurse). Next, they complete a master’s degree program in order to meet the requirements to take the national certification exam. This entire process requires about 8 years of college studies.

The backgrounds of our nurse practitioners at Williams Integracare are diverse.

Jon, Eric, and Shana all previously worked in an emergency or intensive care department. Jon also worked as a paramedic, even teaching in a paramedic school. Christi also worked in the St. Cloud hospital in the Labor and Delivery Unit. Longtime patients may remember that Kate spent nearly a decade as an RN at Williams Integracare before continuing her education to become a nurse practitioner.

While nurse practitioners do not complete the same type of residency programs that medical doctors do, our staff’s varied work experiences give each of them valuable hands-on experience, even before completing their nurse practitioner certifications.

Do Nurse Practitioners and Family Doctors specialize in different things?

Doctors can have a wide variety of specializations while others are family doctors who see a wide range of general ailments. This is a similar situation for nurse practitioners, where our team is composed of “family nurse practitioners” ideal for treating general ailments.

Nurse practitioners are medical professionals who can record a patient’s medical history/symptoms and diagnose their health issues.

A specialized doctor is a great resource for more advanced diagnosis and treatment. For acute and chronic conditions that many families turn to us for, nurse practitioners are the ideal resource.

Why is a Nurse Practitioner a great choice for a primary care provider?

The primary role of a nurse practitioner is to manage the overall care of their patients. This is ideal for families that need a provider available to see when they feel ill or to help manage a chronic condition (like diabetes).

Nurse practitioners can order and interpret lab work, x-rays, and diagnostic studies. They prescribe medications, diagnose, and treat conditions.

For the majority of central Minnesota families, a nurse practitioner has the experience and skills to handle all of their needs. Should a more serious condition develop and you need to see a specialist, they will be able to refer you to a specialist in the specific field as needed.