Some of our patients at the Waimanalo Health Center, expecting to see a doctor, have been surprised
to see a nurse practitioner instead.
What is a Nurse Practitioner?
by Pat Bourke, NP
In recent years, there have been many changes in the way health care is delivered. The expanded duties of registered nurses is one of those changes. Because doctors are sometimes overwhelmed with the numbers of patients that they need to see, they delegate particular aspects of care to nurses. This practice has grown to be very effective; the doctor is able to see more people and the patient is given more time to have his or her questions answered.
A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse (RN) who has received additional specialized training. Patients will see a nurse practitioner for annual physical exams, pap smears and breast exams, for family planning needs, and for minor complaints such as colds or infections. If the nurse practitioner notes an abnormal condition, she requests a physician consult or referral. Nurse practitioners are trained in health education and often teach classes in the community. I teach health classes at Kailua High School and Lamaze classes at the Waimanalo Health Center.
There are many different kinds of nurse practitioners, depending on their training. Specialties include Pediatric, Family Practice, and Geriatric. My specialty is Women's Health and I have a Master's Degree in Nursing. My practice includes the typical nurse practitioner responsibilities, as noted above. I also see pregnant patients with our OB/GYN physician, Dr. Bhattacharyya.
Choosing to see a doctor or a nurse practitioner is a personal decision. The important thing is that you have established a relationship with a health care provider, and you are working towards good health together.
Kealaonapuna (y), Haunani (M), Mapuana (O) O'Sullivan.