Healthy You - Every Day

Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants: Who They Are

These advanced practice clinicians (APCs) work to keep you healthy

There were a billion physician office visits in the U.S. last year and advanced practice clinicians (APCs) – including certified registered nurse practitioners (CRNPs) and certified physician assistants (PA-Cs) – played a vital role in delivering that care.

“In most practices, your care might be completely provided by an APC. The thing to remember is that care is always world-class.” – Michele Hartzell, PA-C, Assistant Chief Quality and Patient Safety Officer, LVHN

When you need medical help, you can count on APCs to be there when you need them. They work closely with your doctor, so everyone is on the same page when it comes to what you need.

Who are PA-Cs and CRNPs?

PA-Cs and CRNPs are known as advanced practice clinicians due to their extensive education and training. They are primary care clinicians, just like physicians. Working closely with physicians, they:

  • Perform exams and procedures
  • Diagnose and treat illnesses
  • Write prescriptions
  • Help perform rounds in the hospital
  • Assist in surgery

Physicians and their CRNPs or PAs are a team, all following the same philosophy of care.

“APCs are involved in nearly every aspect of medical care,” says Geoffrey Carlson, PA-C, LVPG Family Medicine–Moselem Springs. “It’s a whole team effort across the board.”

APCs receive extensive education and training that’s built on the same basic premise as a physician, including internal medicine. In the case of a CRNP, it requires an accredited, approved master's or postmaster's nurse practitioner program. A PA-C needs an undergraduate degree and physician assistant master’s degree. In addition to formal education, APCs customarily receive additional physician-supervised training. There also is mandated continuing education.   

Michele Hartzell, PA-C, is Assistant Chief Quality and Patient Safety Officer for LVHN. She specializes in emergency medicine. “APCs are involved in nearly all areas. We’re trained to care for patients in all facets of their treatment,” she says. “We’re diagnosing, ordering tests, prescribing medication, performing procedures, and much more. The list is extensive and we’re all in.”

Regardless of whether an APC is in an outpatient or inpatient setting, there is ongoing collaboration and consultation with their physician. All help care for you as a team.

Medical practices with APCs are fast becoming the norm. “A doctor opening a urology practice today would surely have APCs on the team,” Carlson says.

When you need care, you can count on CRNPs and PAs to be there when you need them. They work closely with your doctor, so everyone is one same page when it comes to what you need.

Patients appreciate their APCs

Patients get great care and results from APCs. They also form strong bonds of trust and friendship. Here’s a sampling of some recent survey comments from our patients about their APCs.

  • “I can’t express enough how awesome she is. Very sincere and caring. I have not had another medical caregiver that responded so quickly if I had any concerns, even on a weekend or after hours. She is wonderful, and you should be proud to have her on your team.”
  • "The physician assistant was amazing. She was terrific, gentle and was aware of my medical information. She read my file before entering the room. Overall, a 10 for medical service.”
  • The CRNP was extremely professional and efficient. She quickly evaluated me and determined I would need to go to the ER. She called ahead to Hecktown Oaks for the staff to be expecting me. Upon arrival to the ER, I was quickly taken back, evaluated and had diagnostic testing done. It was determined that I would need emergency surgery. The providers and staff are always top notch.”
Watch Julianna Grandinetti, PA-C, reflect on the joys of being a physician assistant.

Care team

Physicians and their CRNPs or PAs are a team, all following the same philosophy of care.

Find care

Explore More Articles