What is an Advanced Practice Clinician?

What is an Advanced Practice Clinician?

The world of health care is changing.

Aging baby-boomers, millennial families, thinning rural populations and condensing metropolitan areas are impacting how care is delivered across our country. Health care systems are adapting, getting connected and becoming more integrated with the communities they serve. In this dynamic environment, APCs (Advanced Practice Clinicians) are taking on a bigger role than ever before, and in the process, improving access to high quality care in the communities they serve.

From small neighborhood clinics to leading health care systems across the country, APCs aren’t simply clinical support. They are essential health care providers in practices, and they have the education and experience to match their important responsibilities.

We recently sat down with Brenda Madura, Director of Advanced Practice Clinicians at Advocate Medical Group, to learn more about APCs.

Q: What are Advanced Practice Clinicians (APC)?

Actually, “Advanced Practice Clinician” is an umbrella term that refers to both Physician Assistants (PA-C) and Advanced Practice Nurses (APN)—soon to be known as Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN).

APRNs are nurses with post-graduate education in nursing—a master’s or doctorate degree—and extensive experience in their field. For example, I am a certified nurse midwife (CNM) with over 25 years of experience providing sexual and reproductive health care services to women and adolescents both domestically and internationally. I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Northwestern University and a Master of Science degree in Nursing from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

APRNs are trained and licensed to practice in one of four roles: Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA), Certified Nurse Midwifes (CNM), Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) or Certified Nurse Practitioners (CNP).

PAs are not nurses—they have their own course of study, mostly through master’s degree programs. PAs are trained as generalists, and their practice is closely aligned with the specialty of their collaborating physician.

All the different designations get a little bit confusing. Here is a chart that might help:

Q: What kind of care can APCs provide to patients?

APCs can conduct physical exams, order and interpret tests, diagnose illness, develop treatment plans, prescribe medications, perform procedures, assist in surgery, conduct clinical research and coordinate care—all in collaboration with a physician. Operating at the top of their license, many APCs can even have their own practice, their own patients and write prescriptions for most controlled substances. They can also be part of a comprehensive health care team in an inpatient or outpatient setting.

APCs have a track record of delivering high-quality care to patients. They are an important part of many health systems’ plans, including Advocate’s, to improve outcomes as we transform health care for the people we serve every day.

Q: How do APCs impact the health of the populations they serve?

As health systems aim to get the right level of care, by the right provider, at the right time in the right setting, APCs allow us to provide more access to primary and specialty care, as well as enhanced levels of patient education to help them better navigate their own self-care.

In the next few years, we are looking forward to helping grow as a health system focused on population health.

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About the Author

Crystal Olsen
Crystal Olsen

Crystal Olsen, health enews contributor, is a coordinator of public affairs for Advocate Health Care in Downers Grove. She earned a Master’s degree in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and has her Bachelor’s in Political Science and Communication from the same institution. Crystal has worked in government, politics, and public affairs for nearly a decade. Coming from a family of journalists, she enjoys reading the paper and staying involved in her community. Crystal resides in Chicago and can often be found biking around the neighborhoods looking for a new record shop to frequent.