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Can a Nurse Practitioner be my Family Doctor?

Can a Nurse Practitioner be my Family Doctor?

I get a common question from patients:’ What is the difference between a Nurse Practitioner and a Family Doctor?’  My answer is always the same; ‘As a licensed and board-certified Nurse Practitioner, I can pretty much do everything a Family Doctor can. The main difference, you do not have to wait for weeks to see me.’

Nurse Practitioners, like Family Physicians, have advanced education; usually, a Master’s degree and sometimes, a doctorate along with extensive clinical training. As with all medical professionals, they are licensed by the appropriate board to practice.

In New York and many other states, nurse practitioners can practice independently.   Nurse Practitioners can coordinate a patient’s overall care, diagnose, treat chronic and acute conditions, write prescriptions, and order diagnostic tests. 

The following article from Cedar Sinai in California provides more information about the difference between Nurse Practitioners and Family Physicians.  https://www.cedars-sinai.org/blog/difference-nurse-practitioner-vs-doctor.html  

Some healthcare changes that fueled the uptick of Nurse Practitioners in primary care and family medicine include the increasing shortage of physicians in this specialty due to the high cost of medical education and increased salary with specialization. Another trend in family medicine and primary care includes physicians in private practices merging with big conglomerate hospitals or leaving private practice to work for hospital systems.

These two trends, amongst others, increase the shortage of physicians in primary care or family medicine.  Hence, many states such as New York need to grant Nurse Practitioners independent practice authority as providers. As a result of Physician shortage in primary care, Nurse Practitioners have filled the gap by providing high-quality holistic care.

For additional information on the trend of doctors leaving private practices, see this article from WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/health-insurance/news/20210527/more-and-more-doctors-abandoning-private-practice

As more Family Physicians leave primary care, the average time for a patient to schedule an appointment and be seen by a physician will increase. In addition, as patient load increases, most primary care physicians often have less time to build personal relationships with patients. These changes in primary care have helped Urgent Care Clinics become more common. However, while it may be easier to get an appointment at the Urgent Care Clinic, a patient has no opportunity to build a relationship and history with the medical provider there.  In addition, there is no guarantee that a patient will see the same provider the next time they visit the Urgent Care Clinic.

See the following article from Blue Cross Blue Shield explaining when a patient should see their Family Doctor and when they should visit an Urgent Care Clinic or ER. https://www.bcbs.com/articles/know-where-go-how-choose-between-doctors-office-urgent-care-and-er

Nurse Practitioners with private practices help bridge these gaps. Also, most patients prefer a personal connection with their health care provider.  At Care Access Clinic, patients can see the Nurse Practitioner within a week; we can also accommodate same-day appointments. Unlike Urgent Care Centers, Care Access Clinic provides personalized care because we know the patient’s medical history. We treat them as a person and not just a number.  

To learn more about our medical practice and how we can be your family’s doctor. Click here: https://www.careaccessnpny.com/about

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