By Carol Wolfenbarger, MSN, RN, FACHE
These healthcare professionals are critical to ensuring access to healthcare services — especially in a rural community. Though these care team members are sometimes referred to as “mid-level providers,” this is misleading because advanced providers have a robust scope of practice based upon completion of a graduate level degree or doctorate degree.
Rural communities often have the challenge of access to primary care. Through the Rural Health Clinics that are part of Mission Hospital McDowell (Mission Health Center – Old Fort, Mission Health Center – Nebo, Mission Pediatrics – McDowell, Mission Health Center – Marion, and Mission Health Center – Sugar Hill), nurse practitioners and physician assistants work with a physician to ensure access to preventive care, diagnosis workup, treatment of acute health issues, and management of chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease. While advanced providers work with a physician, they independently make patient-centered care decisions for their clients.
Nurse practitioners (NPs) achieve a master’s degree with the education foundation being in nursing practice and patient-centered care. Physician assistants (PAs) hold an advanced degree with a foundation grounded in general medicine, and training that’s based on a disease-centered model. Both advanced providers (NPs and PAs) are licensed medical professionals who work to provide team-based care with physicians.
As the healthcare industry has changed over the last several decades, we have seen physician shortages occur, particularly in rural areas like western North Carolina. Advanced level providers have filled this gap, with no compromise in the level of care patients receive. Mission Hospital McDowell is blessed to have a wonderful blend of advanced providers that serve in primary care, emergency care, surgical care, cardiology, orthopedics, pediatrics, women’s care, urgent care, and hospital medicine.
Just like our physicians, MHM’s committed nurse practitioners and physician assistants provide excellence in care.
As we come to the end of 2020, it’s hard to summarize just how much has changed in both our lives and in healthcare over the last nine months. While we continue to fight COVID-19, the MHM healthcare team — including our advanced providers — want to ensure that you continue to fight disease transmission as well. PLEASE practice the three Ws: wash your hands, wait six feet apart, and wear that mask.
Knowing that all of us will most likely celebrate Christmas a bit differently this year, our wish for you is that you and your family remain safe and healthy. As we look toward 2021, please know that Mission Hospital McDowell continues to be ready to serve your healthcare needs. Wishing you a hope-filled Christmas!
Carol Wolfenbarger, MSN, RN, FACHE, is Chief Executive Officer of Mission Hospital McDowell.