Thinking about seeing a nurse practitioner? Here's what to know.

Author: McLaren Flint

If you’re looking for someone who can quickly help you with your healthcare needs, a nurse practitioner could be the perfect fit. 

A nurse practitioner is a nurse with advanced education and training. Nurse practitioners start by becoming registered nurses, then earn  graduate degrees and pass national board certification exams to be licensed by the state.

“A nurse practitioner has to complete at least a master's level degree with an average of 600 clinical training hours,” said Heather Werlinger, a certified family medicine nurse practitioner at McLaren Flint Community Medical Center. “It takes on average 2.5-3 years to complete. Although many go on to obtain their doctorate in nursing.”

The first nurse practitioner program was developed in 1965 and today, it is one of the fastest growing healthcare professions.

Nurse practitioners often have more availability to see new patients than physicians do, and they can take care of many of the same concerns as physicians. Many nurse practitioners offer virtual visits, and can help with mental health treatment and counseling, and referrals to specialists.

Nurse practitioners can handle most of the same healthcare needs physicians can. Some responsibilities include diagnosing and treating both acute and chronic health conditions, ordering and interpreting diagnostics and labs, counseling, prescribing medications, and providing patient education.

“My goal as a nurse practitioner is to make sure every patient I see feels heard,” said Kaitlyn Wyatt, certified family medicine nurse practitioner at McLaren Flint-Davison Community Medical Center. “I think listening to each patient's concerns is the most important part of any patient care. I also think it is one of the biggest factors in providing exceptional health care.”

A nurse practitioner can serve as your primary care provider and help make sure you and your family are healthy through regular checkups and physicals. They also emphasize health promotion and disease prevention.

“I love being able to help my patients manage and improve their health so they can enjoy their life,” said Heather. “It is important to meet each patient where they are at in their health journey.”

Looking for a new primary care provider in your area? Click here for a list of McLaren Flint healthcare providers accepting new patients