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Physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and other advance practice providers

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

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

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

What services can physician assistants (PAs) provide?

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

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, and following chronic medical conditions. PAs work in a variety of health care settings, such as physician 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 your doctor received.

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 training is necessary to become a nurse practitioner?

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 nurse practitioners provide?

Nurse practitioners provide nursing and medical services — according to their practice specialty — to people of all ages. UPMC uses its nurse practitioners to:

  • 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

Where do nurse practitioners work at UPMC?

Nurse practitioners work in a variety of settings:

  • 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 

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

The services provided by advance practice providers are typically covered by health care insurance carriers. 

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