New Ways MDs, NPs, and PAs Can Work Together

Harriet Edleson


December 21, 2011

In This Article

Key Skills You May Not Be Aware of

As patients become increasingly involved in their own healthcare, NPs and PAs can assume larger roles. "Patient engagement is important," says Johnson. She continues, "Nurse practitioners are going to have a very critical role in this. They can be the healthcare providers who discuss behavioral change or a treatment plan with the patient."

Many NPs have psychosocial skills that can be useful in dealing with difficult patients, such as youngsters with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. "Health counseling and teaching are big parts of being a nurse practitioner," says Janet Selway, DNSc, president of the American College of Nurse Practitioners and an assistant professor at the Catholic University of America.

In acute-care settings, NPs and PAs can take on other tasks. For example, they might work with hospitalists as part of a care team. "The key in working with a team is making sure everybody knows what they are doing," Johnson says. "You need cross coverage and a lot of communication."

Creating effective teams that include NPs and PAs is a crucial part of healthcare evolution. According to Selway, nonhierarchical team care is the key to medical professionals working together.

To decrease hospital readmission rates, NPs and PAs who work with hospitalists can follow patients from discharge to home, rehabilitation, or nursing home. "A nurse practitioner is a great person to facilitate that transition," says Johnson. "If you monitor people you can catch things early."

Other roles for NPs and PAs can include working with oncologists, surgeons, and other specialists. A PA, for example, can work with a cardiologist in the emergency department or with a surgeon in the operating room on tasks that the physician determines.


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