Videos Women's Health May 7, 2018

Role of Nurse Practitioners in Health Care

UT Health Austin nurse practitioner shares about the unique approach nurse practitioners bring to patient care

Reviewed by: Amy Papermaster, PhD, NP-C, RN
Written by: Rocky Epstein

A study released in May 2018 discovered that the country needs to hire at least two-million healthcare workers by 2025 to take care of aging baby boomers. Helping to fill that gap are nurse practitioners, such as UT Health Austin nurse practitioner Amy Papermaster, PhD, NP-C, RN, from from Women’s Health, a clinical partnership between UT Health Austin and Ascension Seton. Dr. Papermaster discussed the role of nurse practitioners in healthcare in an interview with KXAN.

A Mounting Shortage of Healthcare Providers

Dr. Papermaster argues nurse practitioners will be crucial for addressing the growing shortage of healthcare providers and notes that this has become increasingly common over the past decade. “Nurse practitioners are starting to take on more of the role as a provider and are able to create quality and affordable care for patients.”

What is a Nurse Practitioner?

Dr. Papermaster explains that a nurse practitioner is an advanced level degree nurse, meaning they typically hold a master’s degree or a doctorate degree. “Nurse practitioners are able to see patients with acute conditions to chronic conditions, from the common cold to diabetes and kidney disease. They are able to diagnose conditions and prescribe medications, order imaging tests and procedures. We really are taking on the role of a provider.”

As providers, nurse practitioners bring a unique philosophical approach to a patient’s care because they are first and foremost nurses. “We really take on holistic patient care, we look at the physical, social, and psychological aspects in the patient care routine,” says Dr. Papermaster, adding that nurses and nurse practitioners act as the patient’s voice and advocate. “When you see a nurse practitioner, they want to see how you are doing as a whole person, not just that your wrist is hurting, or that you have a gynecologic issue.”

Providing for Patients in Rural Areas

Since it is difficult for many physicians to travel or relocate to rural areas, nurse practitioners are addressing disparities in rural care by moving into those areas and treating the population. Dr. Papermaster cites research finding that nurse practitioners provide excellent care for these individuals.

Becoming a Nurse Practitioner

Dr. Papermaster notes that the graduate courses in nurse practitioner programs often overlap with the courses required to become a physician and that both careers require exposure to a clinical setting as part of training.

Steps to becoming a nurse practitioner include:

  • Practice as a nurse, usually as a registered nurse (RN)
  • Earn a bachelor’s degree
  • Gain experience through 2-3 years in critical care
  • Attend an graduate school (completing either a master’s or doctorate degree)
  • Obtain state license and certification

To learn more about Women’s Health or to schedule an appointment, click here.

For more information about UT Health Austin or to schedule an appointment, call 1-833-UT-CARES (1-833-882-2737) or visit here.

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About the Partnership Between UT Health Austin and Ascension Seton

The collaboration between UT Health Austin and Ascension brings together medical professionals, medical school learners, and researchers who are all part of the integrated mission of transforming healthcare delivery and redesigning the academic health environment to better serve society. This collaboration allows highly specialized providers who are at the forefront of the latest research, diagnostic, and technological developments to build an integrated system of care that is a collaborative resource for clinicians and their patients.

About UT Health Austin

UT Health Austin is the clinical practice of the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin. We collaborate with our colleagues at the Dell Medical School and The University of Texas at Austin to utilize the latest research, diagnostic, and treatment techniques, allowing us to provide patients with an unparalleled quality of care. Our experienced healthcare professionals deliver personalized, whole-person care of uncompromising quality and treat each patient as an individual with unique circumstances, priorities, and beliefs. Working directly with you, your care team creates an individualized care plan to help you reach the goals that matter most to you — in the care room and beyond. For more information, call us at 1-833-UT-CARES or request an appointment here.