Your Care Team

QUALITY HEALTH CARE IS A RIGHT, NOT A PRIVILEGE

YOUR CARE TEAM’S ROLE

Every patient has a designated care team responsible for working together to provide quality care. Your care team may consist of a physician, physician assistant, and/or nurse practitioner who have care managers to help organize your appointment visits and medical needs and requests .  Your care team will be led by a physician you have selected, however you may be treated by a physician assistant or nurse practitioner assigned to your care team.  Your care team’s responsibility is to provide care coordination, preventive screenings,  manage chronic conditions, close gaps of care, and provide self-care support, community resources, and education.

WHAT IS A PHYSICIAN?

A Physician diagnoses and treats injuries or illnesses. A physician also examines patients; takes medical histories; prescribes medications; and orders, performs, and interprets diagnostic tests, recommends and/or designs treatment plans, and addresses a patient concerns/questions regarding their well-being.  A physician often counsels patients on diet, nutrition, hygiene, and preventive healthcare.

 

There are two types of physicians -- an “M.D.” (Medical Doctor) and a “D.O.” (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine).  Both of these physicians use the same methods of treatment, including drugs and surgery, but D.O.s place additional emphasis on the body's musculoskeletal system, preventive medicine, and holistic (whole-person) patient care.

 

Physicians have demanding education and training requirements. Almost all physicians complete at least 4 years of undergraduate school, 4 years of medical school, and 3-8 years in internship and residency programs (depending upon their specialty).  Additionally, physicians must pass a national licensure examination, as all states require physicians to be licensed to practice medicine.

 

Physicians can work in one or more of several specialties, such as the following to name a few:

 

  • Family & General Physicians:  Assess and treat a range of conditions that occur in everyday life ranging from sinus and respiratory infections to broken bones.

 

  • General Internists:  Diagnose and provide nonsurgical treatment for a range of problems that affect internal organ systems such as the stomach, kidneys, liver, and digestive tract. 

 

  • Pediatricians:  Specialize in diagnosing and treating infants, children, teenagers, and young adults.

 

  • Obstetricians & Gynecologists:  Provide care related to pregnancy, childbirth, and the female reproductive system, as well as deliver babies. They also diagnose and treat health issues specific to women, such as breast cancer, cervical cancer, hormonal disorders, and symptoms related to menopause.

 

WHAT IS A PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT?

A Physician Assistant (PA) is a licensed health care professional who practices medicine under the supervision of a physician. PA’s work as members of the medical team, while providing a broad range of medical and surgical services traditionally performed by physicians themselves, such as the following:

  • Perform physician examinations

  • Diagnose illnesses

  • Develop and carry out treatment plans

  • Order and interpret lab tests

  • Provide patient education

  • Assist in preventive health care counseling

  • Prescribe medication

 

Supervising physicians determine which patients and/or types of illnesses are to be assisted by a PA. When a PA assists in an unusual medical situation, close consultation occurs between the physician, PA and patient. PA’s are skilled to recognize when it is necessary to have the patient seen by the physician and when to hospitalize them.

WHAT IS A NURSE PRACTITIONER?

A Nurse Practitioner (NP) is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who has completed graduate-level education (either a Master of nursing or Doctor of Nursing Practice degree). Nurse Practitioners treat both physical and mental conditions through comprehensive history taking, physical exams, and ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests. NPs can diagnose a wide range of acute and chronic diseases (within their scope of practice) and provide appropriate treatment for patients, including prescribing medications. NPs can serve as a patient’s primary health care provider, and see patients of all ages depending on their specialty (family, pediatrics, geriatrics, etc.). The core philosophy of the field is individualized care that focuses on patients’ conditions as well as the effects of illness on the lives of the patients and their families.

WHAT IS A MEDICAL ASSISTANT?

Medical Assistants work alongside physicians and are instrumental in helping patients feel at ease in a medical office or facility.  Medical Assistants often explain a physician's instructions and they are cross-trained to perform administrative and clinical duties, such as the following:

 

  • Administrative Duties

    • Using computer applications

    • Answering telephones

    • Greeting patients

    • Updating and filing patient medical records

    • Coding and completing insurance forms

    • Scheduling appointments

    • Arranging hospital admissions and laboratory services

    • Handling correspondence, billing, and bookkeeping

 

  • Clinical Duties

    • Taking medical histories

    • Explaining treatment procedures to patients

    • Preparing patients for examination

    • Assisting a physician during exams

    • Collecting and preparing laboratory specimens

    • Performing basic laboratory tests

    • Instructing patients about medication and special diets

    • Preparing and administering medications as directed by a physician

    • Transmitting prescription refills as directed

    • Drawing blood

    • Taking electrocardiograms

    • Removing sutures and changing dressings

WHAT IS A CARE MANAGER?

In our group, Care managers are practice-based staff with direct patient contact. They take on the coordination activities and participate in both the clinical and nonclinical aspects of care. Care managers (sometimes referred to as patient navigators) work closely with patients and their families. Care managers’ activities often include the following:

  • Assessing (and regularly reassessing) patients’ care needs

  • Developing, reinforcing, and monitoring care plans

  • Providing education and encouraging self-management

  • Communicating information across clinicians and settings

  • Connecting patients to community resources and social services