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Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, Nurse Practitioners, and Physician Assistants

Nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) are qualified health care professionals who provide care and treatment while working under the close supervision of a doctor. They have been certified to perform many of the same tasks as a doctor.

PAs and NPs are often referred to as advanced practice providers. Other examples of advanced practice providers include certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) and certified nurse midwives (CNMs).

At UPMC, all advanced practice providers are fully licensed and certified to provide patient care. UPMC views advanced practice providers as important and effective members of your health care team.

Physician Assistant (PA)

PAs work in a variety of health care settings such as doctor offices, nursing homes, and hospitals.

What training is necessary to become a PA?

UPMC’s PAs must complete their training at educational institutions accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant. These programs use a medical model that complements the training and education that a doctor receives.

To maintain certification, PAs must complete a minimum of 100 hours of continuing medical education every two years and take a written examination every six years.

What services can PAs provide?

PAs can provide many of the same services as a doctor and work in nearly every medical specialty. PAs are supervised by doctor, and the services that PAs can provide are approved by the supervising doctor.

PAs provide a comprehensive range of services. These services include:

  • Performing physical exams
  • Taking patient histories
  • Conducting clinical procedures
  • Diagnosing and treating illnesses
  • Prescribing medications
  • Ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests
  • Following chronic medical conditions

Nurse Practitioner (NP)

Nurse practitioners work in a variety of settings such as primary care offices, community health centers, subspecialty clinics such as cardiovascular and oncology, intensive care units, emergency departments and surgical units, home health agencies, hospice centers, and long‐term care facilities.

What training is necessary to become a NP?

A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse who has advanced education and clinical training beyond a bachelor’s degree in a health care specialty area. Nurse practitioners also are called certified registered nurse practitioners (CRNPs), and you may hear that term in your doctor’s office or at the hospital.

What services do NPs provide?

Nurse practitioners provide nursing and medical services — according to their practice specialty — to people of all ages.

NPs provide a comprehensive range of services. These services include:

  • Obtain medical histories and perform physical exams
  • Diagnose and treat health problems such as infections and injuries
  • Diagnose, treat, and monitor diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure
  • Order and review laboratory studies and x‐rays
  • Prescribe medications and other treatments
  • Promote positive health behaviors and self‐care skills through education and counseling

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) at UPMC

A certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) is an advanced practice nurse who administers anesthesia. CRNAs are the only nurses who are credentialed to provide anesthesia services.  CRNAs work with surgeons and anesthesiologists (Doctor of Anesthesia).  CRNAs practice in every setting in which anesthesia is delivered including traditional hospital suites and obstetrical delivery rooms, the offices of oral surgeons, podiatrists, ophthalmologists, and ambulatory surgical centers.

Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) at UPMC

A certified nurse midwife (CNM) is a licensed registered nurse who has advanced education and clinical training in prenatal care, women’s health, labor and delivery, and newborn care. Certified nurse midwives, in most states, are required to possess a minimum of a graduate degree such as the Master of Science in Nursing, or Post-Master's Certificate.  Certified nurse-midwives practice in a variety of settings.  These include hospitals, clinics, free-standing birth centers, and home births.

Will health insurance pay for services provided by advance practice providers?

Please call the physician's office to verify insurance coverage prior to scheduling an appointment.

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For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

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Medical information made available on is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

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