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December 20 2018

Advanced practice providers are vital members of team-based health care

By James Mangerson, PA

Physicians are supported by a team of health care professionals who provide patient care in collaboration with the physician.

Specially trained physician assistants and advanced practice nurses are key members of medical teams that extend patient care beyond physicians. These advanced practice providers are integral to both primary care and specialty care, such as heart & vascular and cancer care.

Physician assistants are educated in general medicine at the master’s degree level. They are licensed to diagnose and treat illnesses and perform minor procedures under the supervision of a physician.

Advanced practice nurses – also known as advanced practice nurse practitioners, advanced practice nurse prescribers, advanced practice registered nurses and clinical nurse specialists – are master’s level nurses trained to provide and coordinate patient care while serving as patient liaisons to physicians and other members of the medical team. They focus on the whole person, providing a range of services that concentrate on patients’ mental and physical well-being.

High level of patient care

Patients receive the same high quality of care from advanced practice providers as from physicians. The providers perform medical examinations, order tests and interpret test results, prescribe medications, consult with patients on prevention and health care recommendations, and often act as a patient’s primary medical team contact.

Like doctors, advanced practice providers are dedicated to providing the best outcomes for their patients. When a medical team includes these providers, there are also more professionals available to see patients and answer their questions.

Patients with long-term chronic conditions and those who need a medical procedure may encounter an advanced practice provider playing a role in their care. When an individual becomes a candidate for a surgical procedure, for example, the advanced practice provider often serves as a guide and is with the patient every step of the way.

Surgical care

In the case heart surgery, the advanced care provider would:

  • Meet with the patient on an outpatient basis to review their medical history, perform a physical exam and prescribe tests and medication.
  • Present the patient’s medical information to the surgeon for treatment recommendations.
  • Explain to the patient what the procedure involves, the potential benefits and risks of the procedure, and the possible risks and options of not having the surgery.
  • Meet with the patient and surgeon to discuss the planned procedure and answer patient questions.
  • Provide pre-surgical evaluations and interpret diagnostic tests.
  • Schedule and coordinate the procedure with the surgical team.

The advanced practice provider is also a primary point of contact for patients before they enter the operating room and when they are recovering from the procedure. The advanced practice provider will:

  • Meet with the patient and family members on the day of the surgery to review the procedure and answer questions before the patient goes to the operating room.
  • Manage post-surgical and intensive care, including pain and medication management.
  • Serve as the direct contact for the patient’s family.
  • Meet with the patient and surgeon during the patient’s hospital stay.
  • Meet with the patient during one or more follow-up appointments after discharge from the hospital.

Advanced practice providers bring a high level of efficiency and comprehensive care to medicine and serve as trusted, go-to providers for patients and their family members. They also collaborate with other medical professionals to discuss and analyze patient care, engage in research, and improve processes that contribute to better health outcomes.

If you have an advanced practice provider on your team, you are in the care of someone committed to providing outstanding personalized and compassionate care.

James Mangerson is a physician assistant and supervisor of cardiothoracic surgery with ProHealth Care in Waukesha. He leads a team of advanced practice providers that works with heart and vascular patients. Visit ProHealthCare.org/Heart to learn more about the services they offer or call 262-928-2745 to learn more about the team of providers.

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For more than a century, ProHealth Care has been the health care leader in Waukesha County and surrounding areas, providing outstanding care across a full spectrum of services. The people of ProHealth Care strive to continuously improve the health and well-being of the community by combining skill, compassion and innovation. The ProHealth family includes ProHealth Waukesha Memorial Hospital, ProHealth Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital, ProHealth Rehabilitation Hospital of Wisconsin, ProHealth Medical Group, the UW Cancer Center at ProHealth Care, Moreland Surgery Center, ProHealth AngelsGrace Hospice, ProHealth Home Care, ProHealth West Wood Health & Fitness Center and ProHealth Regency Senior Communities. Learn more at ProHealthCare.org.