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Nurse Practitioners

What is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine?

Osteopathic physicians (D.O.s) practice a “whole person” approach to medicine and they have a special passion for preventive health care. Instead of just treating specific symptoms or illnesses, they regard your body as an integrated whole. They receive extra training in the musculoskeletal system — your body’s interconnected system of nerves, muscles and bones that make up two-thirds of its body mass. This training provides osteopathic physicians with a better understanding of the ways that an injury or illness in one part of your body can affect another part of it. Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) is incorporated in the training and practice of osteopathic physicians. With OMT, osteopathic physicians use their hands to diagnose injury and illness and to encourage your body’s natural tendency toward good health. By combining all available medical procedures with OMT, D.O.s offer their patients the most comprehensive care available in medicine today. Osteopathic medicine is a philosophy of medicine based on ideas that date back to Hippocrates, the father of medicine. The philosophy focuses on the unity of all body parts. He identified the musculoskeletal system as a key element of health. He recognized the body’s ability to heal itself and stressed preventive medicine, eating properly and keeping fit. MDs and DOs are very similar in that applicants to both D.O. and M.D. medical colleges are required to have a four-year undergraduate degree with an emphasis on scientific courses. Both D.O.s and M.D.s complete four years of basic medical education. After medical school, both D.O.s and M.D.s can choose to practice in a specialty area of medicine — such as surgery, family practice or psychiatry–after completing a residency program (typically two to six years of additional training). Both D.O.s and M.D.s must pass comparable state licensing exams. D.O.s and M.D.s both practice in fully accredited and licensed health care facilities.

Why Family Practice Medicine?

Family medicine is the continuing and current expression of the historical medical practitioner. The first physicians were generalists. For thousands of years, these generalists provided all of the medical care available. They diagnosed and treated illnesses, performed surgery, and delivered babies. As medical knowledge expanded and technology advanced, many physicians chose to limit their practices to specific, defined areas of medicine. The family practice clinic functions as the patient’s medical home within the health care system. The family physician is the physician of first contact in most situations and, as the initial provider, is in a unique position to form a bond with the patient. The family physician evaluates the patient’s total health needs, and provides personal care within several fields of medicine. The family physician’s care is comprehensive and not limited by age, sex, organ system or type of problem, be it biological, behavioral, or social. The family physician’s care utilizes knowledge of the patient in the context of the family and the community. This care emphasizes disease prevention and health promotion. The family physician refers the patient when indicated, to other sources of care while preserving continuity of care. The family physician’s role as a cost-effective coordinator of the patient’s health services is integral to the care provided.

What is a “Mid-Level Provider”?

The term “mid level-provider” is fast being recognized as a derogatory name for nurse practitioners. The term is oppressive and implies that NPs are only capable of taking care of minor and less complicated patients and conditions compared to medical doctors. Research has shown that most patients would prefer to see an NP and they are equally, if not more satisfied, receiving their care from an NP. Most importantly, NPs provide equal, if not better, health care treatment when outcome measures are reviewed.

What is the Nurse Practitioner’s Responsibility?

The role of the nurse practitioner continues to evolve in response to changing societal and health care needs. As leaders in primary and acute health care, nurse practitioners combine the roles of provider, mentor, educator, researcher and administrator. Members of the profession are responsible for advancing the role of the nurse practitioner and ensuring that the standards of the profession are maintained. This is accomplished through involvement in professional organizations and participation in health policy activities at the local, state, national and international levels.

What is a Nurse Practitioner’s Accountability when it comes to Treating Patients?

The autonomous nature of the nurse practitioner’s advanced clinical practice requires accountability for health care outcomes. Ensuring the highest quality of care requires certification, periodic peer review, clinical outcome evaluations, a code for ethical practice, evidence of continuing professional development and maintenance of clinical skills. Nurse practitioners are committed to seeking and sharing knowledge that promotes quality health care and improves clinical outcomes. This is accomplished by leading and participating in both professional and lay health care forums, conducting research and applying findings to clinical practice.

What Type of Education does a Nurse Practitioner Receive?

Entry level preparation for nurse practitioner practice is at the master’s, post master’s or doctoral level. Didactic and clinical courses prepare nurses with specialized knowledge and clinical competency to practice in primary care, acute care and long term health care settings. Self-directed continued learning and professional development beyond the formal advanced education is essential to maintain clinical competency.

What is a Nurse Practitioner's Professional Role?

Nurse Practitioners are licensed independent practitioners who practice in ambulatory, acute and long term care as primary and/or specialty care providers. This is according to the practice specialty they provide including nursing and medical services to individuals, families and groups. In addition to diagnosing and managing acute episodic and chronic illnesses, nurse practitioners emphasize health promotion and disease prevention. Services include:

  • Ordering, conducting, supervising, and interpreting diagnostic and laboratory tests, and prescription of pharmacologic agents and non-pharmacologic therapies.
  • Teaching and counseling individuals, families and groups are a major part of a nurse practitioner’s practice.
As licensed, independent practitioners, nurse practitioners practice autonomously and in collaboration with health care professionals and other individuals to assess, diagnose, treat and manage the patient’s health problems/needs. They serve as health care researchers, interdisciplinary consultants and patient advocates.

What is a Nurse Practitioner (NP)?

NPs are advanced practice nurses who provide high-quality health care services similar to those of a physician. NPs diagnose and treat a wide range of health problems. They have a unique approach and stress both care and cure. Besides clinical care, NPs focus on health promotion, disease prevention, health education and counseling. They help patients make wise health and lifestyle choices. They are truly your Partners in Health.

Naturopathic Doctors

What is a Naturopathic Doctor?

Naturopathic physicians combine the wisdom of nature with the rigors of modern science. Steeped in traditional healing methods, principles and practices, naturopathic medicine focuses on holistic, proactive prevention and comprehensive diagnosis and treatment. By using protocols that minimize the risk of harm, naturopathic physicians help facilitate the body’s inherent ability to restore and maintain optimal health. It is the naturopathic physician’s role to identify and remove barriers to good health by helping to create a healing internal and external environment. Naturopathic physicians work in private practices, hospitals, clinics and community health centers. NDs practice throughout the United States and Canada. Qualified naturopathic physicians undergo rigorous training before they become licensed health-care practitioners. Visit our Professional Education page to learn about naturopathic education. NDs treat all medical conditions and can provide both individual and family health care. Among the most common ailments they treat are allergies, chronic pain, digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, obesity, respiratory conditions, heart disease, fertility problems, menopause, adrenal fatigue, cancer, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. NDs can perform minor surgeries, such as removing cysts or stitching up superficial wounds. However, they do not practice major surgery. NDs are trained to utilize prescription drugs, although the emphasis of naturopathic medicine is the use of natural healing agents.

What Should I Expect on my First Visit?

A naturopathic physician will take time with you. During your first appointment, your doctor will take your health history, find out about your diet, stress levels, use of tobacco and alcohol, and discuss why you’re there. He or she may perform an examination and order diagnostic tests. Naturopathic physicians keep themselves up-to-date on the latest scientific research and incorporate this evidence into their treatments. The naturopathic physician will work with you to set up a customized health management strategy. If necessary, your doctor will refer you to other health-care practitioners.