In the last ten years, the number of licensed nurse practitioners (NPs) have nearly doubled in the United States, according to Becker’s Hospital Review. And, it seems that the field will continue to grow in the coming years. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services projects that primary care NPs will increase by 30 percent by 2020, while primary care Physician Assistants (PAs) will increase by 58 percent.
One cause of this rapid growth may be due to the limited number of primary care physicians amidst a large demand due to aging population growth and the expansion of health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
The use of advanced practice providers in team-based care environments can even be seen locally. Since January 2014, ProMedica Physicians has welcomed nearly 100 CNPs (certified) and PAs to its group of primary care provders and specialists.
Jennifer DeRaad, CNP, is one of them. She recently joined the office of Cantor and Freeman, a pediatrics and primary care practice, and hopes to clear up some of the confusion about what CNPs do.
“The biggest misnomer is that CNPs only provide care for conditions like colds and ear infections. The reality is that we dig deep into chronic medical problems — wound care, diabetes, hypertension — all the big ones,” DeRaad stated. “We have our own certification and licensures from the Ohio Board of Nursing.” While most NPs are master’s level prepared, some go on to receive their Doctorate of Nursing Practice.
Expanding Expertise, Resources
How, exactly, do CNPs fit into the healthcare team?
As a CNP, DeRaad is qualified to diagnose and treat chronic and acute illnesses, order and perform tests, prescribe medications and do physical assessments independently.
Yet collaboration with the team is at the core of what she does. Each person brings their unique skills and experiences to the table. DeRaad has spent time as a travel nurse, in an intensive care unit (ICU), children’s hospital and three years with an ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist. Because of these experiences, DeRaad is able to tap into a network of resources to best address her patient’s needs.
“I have a handful of specialty providers that when I dial their number, my questions are answered. In turn, I am able to assist our staff with their clinical questions and I communicate daily with the physicians here,” said DeRaad. “It’s great to be in a team environment where you are able to go down the hall and ask our physicians what has proved most successful for them when dealing with a particular situation.”
“We are truly a supportive environment,” stated DeRaad, who credited communication, coordination and cooperation as elements of the team.
Happier, Healthier Patients
DeRaad admits that some patients may be hesitant to see a CNP at first, but once they have had “face time” with her they are put at ease.
“My clients find me very approachable,” said DeRaad, who prefers to call her patients clients. “ProMedica allows us to spend more time with our clients, which I greatly appreciate.”
And even though DeRaad works in a team environment, she does have her own patient base and her patients see her as their established provider. The scope of practice of DeRaad and other CNPs is fully supported by the Institute of Medicine. “I can assist my client’s needs at a family practice level, from prescribing medications to joint injections,” she explained.
In addition to her own patients, DeRaad may also see the patients of Drs. Freeman and Cantor. “This allows clients to be seen on the same day in a busy practice,” explained DeRaad, which means easier access for patients who need to see someone quickly but want care that’s still connected to their regular provider.
DeRaad has been a nurse for more than twenty years. “I graduated from the University of Cincinnati nursing program where the seed of getting my graduate degree was planted,” she stated. DeRaad has a Masters of Science in Nursing from the University of Toledo. In the near future, DeRaad believes that having a doctorate will be the “gold standard” for those in her field.
Now, DeRaad enjoys “the teaching part of primary care and ‘playing detective’ to figure out the source of patient’s medical issues.” She said that for her, “Being in family practice is a perfect fit.”
“People are happy and spread the word about our high quality care,” she said. “Medicine is an art and a science. The average peson wants to be heard. No matter what your training or background, we have the ability to marry the art and science of medicine — and listen.”
To meet the CNPs of ProMedica Physicians, click here.