If you’re like many Americans, your health care is provided by a combination of physicians and advanced practice providers (APPs). These professionals—nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs)—are important members of the health care team at Dignity Health Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC) and Dignity Health Yavapai Regional Medical Group (YRMG).

Advanced practice providers Gaby Herrera, MSN, FNP-BC, YRMG Pediatrics; Karlene Olson, FNP-BC, YRMG Cardiology; and Jerry Baldwin, PA-C, YRMG Family and Internal Medicine.

During National Advanced Practice Provider Week, September 25-29, YRMC is recognizing the APPs who care for patients throughout our organization’s health care network. We’re also looking at the essential role these professionals play in today’s health care delivery system. Three of those advanced practice providers—all who care for patients in YRMC’s community-based, provider clinics—are pictured here.

“Nationally, there are not enough physicians,” says Herrera. “APPs bridge that gap, increase access to care, and decrease the amount of time people wait to see their providers. They work with physicians and other providers to make health care possible.”

What role do APPs play in health care?
APPs have been part of the health care delivery system since the 1960s. The physician shortage and an aging population more in need of health care services have increased demand for APPs in recent years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that trend will continue from 2022-32 with job growth for NPs and PAs soaring 38 percent and 27 percent, respectively.

“There are differences in how APPs work,” Herrera explains. “Nurse practitioners have their own license and can care for patients independently while physician assistants work directly with a physician, often in surgery. What all APPs have in common is that we collaborate with physicians and other health care providers to ensure our patients receive the best health care possible.”

PAs are licensed clinicians who practice in nearly every medical specialty. They work alongside physicians and, depending on the specialty, may provide primary care, assist surgeons in the operating room, and help care for patients following surgery.

Like PAs, nurse practitioners provide a wide range of health care services, including:

  • Obtaining patient histories and performing physical exams
  • Diagnosing and managing acute and chronic conditions
  • Ordering tests and interpreting results
  • Developing and implementing treatment plans
  • Prescribing medications
  • Performing minor procedures

APPs: Providers of Patient-Centered Care
APPs are known for their patient-centered approach to care. They spend time with patients, listen to their concerns, answer questions, and provide education. This approach creates a strong patient-provider relationship and makes patients more likely to follow through on treatment plans.

“What I enjoy most about being an APP is helping people regain their health,” says Herrera, who has cared for both adult and pediatric patients. “It’s very gratifying when a patient tells me, ‘I feel a lot better now that my blood pressure is controlled or my ear infection is gone.’”

For more information about YRMC and its providers, visit DignityHealth.org/YRMC.