Northwestern Medicine

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Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants

At Northwestern Medicine Regional Medical Group a number of nationally certified and state licensed professionals work together to support you and your family. Your care team may include nurse practitioners and physician assistants with access to your medical records who will stay up to date on your health history and current conditions, as well as communicate with your physician(s).

When you call our office, you may be offered an appointment with a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant.

What is a Nurse Practitioner?

Nurse practitioners are medical professionals who have received additional education and advanced training including a national certification and state license.

The state of Illinois requires that all nurse practitioners first complete a master’s degree before passing a national certification. Nurse practitioners are required to maintain continued education credits to stay current with the most up to date medical information. Nurse practitioners generally qualify through an exam to provide care for more specific areas such as pediatrics, acute care, adult care, midwifery, anesthesia or geriatrics.

Nurse practitioners provide care in both primary and specialty care settings. Your nurse practitioner may:

  • Perform comprehensive physical examinations and complete health histories
  • Order and analyze lab tests and X-rays
  • Prescribe medications
  • Diagnose and treat acute illnesses and injuries
  • Manage chronic diseases
  • Provide patient education and preventive health counseling
  • Consult with physicians and other care team members as needed
  • Perform simple or more advanced medical procedures that fall within their designated specialty

What is a Physician Assistant?

Physician assistants are nationally certified and state-licensed medical professionals with advanced education and training. Physician assistants must pass a national certification exam developed by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) and recertify every 10 years.

Under the supervision of a licensed physician, physician assistants may do the following:

  • Perform comprehensive physical examinations and complete health histories
  • Order and analyze lab tests and X-rays
  • Prescribe medications
  • Diagnose and treat acute illnesses and injuries
  • Manage chronic diseases
  • Provide patient education and preventive health counseling
  • Perform more extensive procedures that fall within their designated specialties
  • Function as first assistant in the operating room, including assisting in the main parts of surgery, and often completing wound closures