Good Life

Health Break | Midlevel staffers essential for quality patient care, cost effectiveness

Mount Nittany Physician Group employs more than 30 physician assistants and nurse practitioners in many different healthcare settings. In primary care settings, these midlevels see patients of all ages for routine health physicals, managing chronic illnesses, and diagnosing and treating acute illnesses and injuries. Ob/Gyn midlevels provide well-woman care and contraception management, and they diagnose and treat many gynecologic problems.

PAs and NPs in pediatrics provide well-baby exams, sports and school physicals, guidance in normal child and adolescent development, and treat a variety of illnesses and injuries.

PAs and NPs are both medical professionals who have gone through intensive medical education and practical office and hospital experiences. Midlevel providers are required to pass national certification testing as well as maintain their state licenses. Annual education requirements keep the professions up to date with the latest medical knowledge.

The daily duties of both providers are very similar. PA s and NPs in specialty care perform a variety of daily tasks. PAs in cardiology manage patients in heart failure clinics and assist in the cardiac catheter lab. Providers in surgical settings such as otolaryngology, plastic surgery and urology perform care within the medical center and outpatient care and followup. PAs and NPs in other specialties such as endocrinology, gastroenterology and neurology provide day-to-day patient care and evaluation of acute and chronic problems.

NPs and PAs are similar on many levels; however, one of the ways they differ is in autonomy. PAs work under the supervision of a physician while NPs are independent practitioners. Working as a team, physicians delegate duties to the PAs they supervise, enabling them to make independent decisions about patient care.

In contrast, NPs are legally able to set up their own health care clinics and, in Pennsylvania, work autonomously. Whether a dependent or autonomous practitioner, collaboration between NPs and the physicians they work with ensures quality health care for everyone.

Why see a PA or NP? Both professions place an emphasis on wellness education for their patients, as well as diagnosing and treating acute and chronic illnesses. Because their salaries are lower than their physician counterparts, NPs and physician assistants help decrease the total cost of health care. And, because many midlevel providers see a majority of acute illnesses, it is sometimes easier to make a same-day appointment with a PA or NP.

Whatever your choice for healthcare provider, the providers at Mount Nittany Physician Group all have one goal and mind — your health and well-being.