For anyone who has ever had to see a doctor (and that would be most of us), we all know the hoops that have to be jumped through to get an appointment for the best patient care. This holds true for internal medicine and family practice doctors, as well as specialty fields such as obstetrics and gynecology, neurology, endocrine, etc. If you need an appointment to see a physician for sinus infections, colds, or any number of reasons, you may be given an appointment time that can range from several days to several weeks away.
You do have a couple of options to consider when you need to see a doctor in a more time manner than several days to several weeks away. The first is to go to the emergency room at the closest hospital. This option is not really desirable as you may sit in the waiting room for several hours before being seen, not to mention that it is not an efficient way to receive medical care for routine matters, as emergency rooms are not substitutes for primary care. Another option to consider is going to a standalone walk-in emergency facility. While this option may seem a little more desirable than going to a hospital emergency room, you are still faced with long wait times. The physicians at these facilities routinely do not see patients on a long-term basis.
A much more efficient and effective way to receive medical care is to see a nurse practitioner. A nurse practitioner (NP) is a nurse who is qualified to treat certain medical conditions without the direct supervision of a doctor. All NP’s must complete a master’s or doctoral degree program, and have advanced clinical training beyond their initial professional registered nurse preparation. 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. These individuals work under the supervision of a physician. Getting an appointment with a nurse practitioner can be much faster and much more efficient, in many cases, than attempting to obtain a visit with the physician. Evidence exists that nurse practitioners patient care results in favorable health outcomes.
In addition to being seen quicker, a nurse practitioner may spend more time with you discussing your healthcare concerns. He or she will interview you in order to obtain your past medical history. During this time you can address your reason for being seen on that particular day, i.e. sinus infection. Just like the physician, the nurse practitioner will perform a physical examination, which includes checking inside your ears, your mouth, listening to your heart, etc. Laboratory values and imaging studies may also be included in this visit and can be ordered by the practitioner.
Another advantage to being seen quicker by a nurse practitioner than a physician, is that the practitioner will spend more time with you addressing specific concerns. A major complaint for many patients is that they often feel that they have been rushed in and out of their doctor’s office. These patients can be made to feel that their concern has not been fully evaluated and/or they have not received enough information about their ailment, along with not feeling fully satisfied with instructions as to how to handle their concern once they go home. Nurse practitioners are very thorough in explaining diagnoses, how to care for your issue when you go home, and why and how to take any prescriptions that you may have been given.
The next time you need to make an appointment to see a healthcare professional, make sure to inquire if the physician’s office is staffed with a nurse practitioner. Doing so can save you time and money, but most importantly, it can get you optimal care so that you can get on the road to recovery and continue with your life. So if you are looking for the best patient care try a nurse practitioner.