Medical Moment: The benefits of seeing a nurse practitioner in primary care

Have you been to your primary care doctor’s office recently and noticed you can get in more quickly if you see a nurse practitioner instead of a medical doctor? Or perhaps you see your doctor and a nurse practitioner interchangeably?

As the demand for primary care grows, more and more clinics across the U.S. are hiring nurse practitioners to work alongside doctors. Nurse practitioners — officially called advanced practice registered nurses — are nurses who have completed extensive education and training and have earned their master’s or doctorate degrees in nursing.

“Our nurse practitioners partner with us to assess patients and help diagnose, develop and oversee comprehensive treatment plans for chronic and acute illnesses,” said Dr. Irfan Dadabhoy, a family medicine physician with Houston Methodist Primary Care Group in Baytown. “Every patient is unique, and we enjoy getting to know all of our patients and working with them to achieve their individual healthcare needs and goals.”

What can a nurse practitioner do?

“Our team of physicians and nurse practitioners collaborate to provide exceptional treatment with integrity, respect and compassion,” Dadabhoy said.

Some potential nurse practitioner responsibilities include:

  • Assessing patients, collecting health history, and performing physical exams
  • Ordering diagnostic and laboratory tests, and analyzing results
  • Making diagnoses
  • Developing, administering and overseeing treatment plans, including prescribing medication and other therapies
  • Making referrals to specialists and coordinating care
  • Educating patients, families and caregivers to promote healthy lifestyles, prevent disease and manage chronic illness

Through communication, education and promoting healthy lifestyles, our nurse practitioners can help reduce frequent office visits, ER visits and hospitalizations.

“In our clinic, nurse practitioners provide individualized health care that incorporates patients and their families to ensure the best outcomes,” he said. “Our nurse practitioners help us empower our patients to help them better care for themselves through information and health education.”

What is a nurse practitioner’s limit?

If a nurse practitioner helps oversee a patient’s chronic condition, at Houston Methodist, the team ensures the patient sees his or her physician at least every third visit. Annual exams at Houston Methodist are also typically completed by the physician.

“While nurse practitioners serve as an extension of the physician,” Dadabhoy said, “if there is a specific concern about a patient, she or he consults with us and we work collaboratively,” he said.

The bottom line:  Nurse practitioners in a primary care setting help patients access care quickly, prevent and manage disease, and maintain healthy lifestyles — along with enhancing patient satisfaction.

Don’t wait to get care. Visit houstonmethodist.org/baytown or call 832-556-6670 to schedule an appointment with a primary care physician or nurse practitioner who can see you – in person or virtually – today.

About Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital

Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital has provided Baytown and east Harris, Liberty and Chambers counties with excellent medical care since its opening in 1948. The hospital continues to grow to meet the health care needs of its growing community through an ongoing construction and renovation program that has seen the opening of a new five-story patient tower, emergency center, outpatient center and medical-surgical units. As a health care leader, the hospital is proud to have a fully integrated residency program focused on educating and inspiring future practitioners. Today, Houston Methodist Baytown provides the most advanced and innovative procedures while never wavering from its focus on compassionate care and providing a safe, patient-centered healing environment. Houstonmethodist.org/baytown.

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