Health care provider: What’s in a name? (Opinion)

Matthew Wonnacott / Guest column
Dr. Matthew Wonnacott

How an individual or family interacts with their healthcare team looks different than it did 10 or 20 years ago. With an increasing number of people needing healthcare services, a continuing focus on preventative health maintenance, and growing demand for specialty medical care, healthcare providers are in high demand across the country.

To meet growing demand, a shift within healthcare is taking place — advanced practice providers are working in tandem with physicians to treat patients and increase access, or availability, to medical care. 

APPs include physician assistants and nurse practitioners, which, depending on their scope of practice, may be identified as a family nurse practitioner or pediatric nurse practitioner, as well as other licensed, non-physician providers, including certified nurse midwives, and others. 

An APP is prepared, through advanced education and clinical training, to provide a wide range of preventive and acute health care services to individuals of all ages, and like a physician, may choose to specialize in treatment for a specific patient population, like orthopedics or cardiology.

Importantly, APPs are expanding access to care within primary care provider offices. A primary care provider is an essential member of an individuals’ health team who see their patients annually for preventative screenings and wellness checks, in addition to referring their patients for any needed specialty care. Essentially, your primary care provider is the pathway into the health system, guiding patients along their health care journey.

Healthcare’s growing list of acronyms may be confusing, just remember — it’s not only doctors who can treat you — you have entire teams of specialists supporting your health.

At Barton Health, we continue to grow our health teams with APPs across our primary care, pediatrics, OB/GYN, orthopedics, and other specialty-care offices. In the past month, new APPs have started at Barton Community Health Center and Barton Pediatrics, and we look forward to welcoming additional advanced practice providers in the near future.

In healthcare, provider recruitment is ongoing, and we continue to work to add new physicians and APPs across our organization to build upon the qualified, multidisciplinary teams who are proud to be your partner in health.

Dr. Matthew Wonnacott is the chief medical officer at Barton Health.

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