5 Reasons Patients Like Nurse Practitioners

National Nurse Practitioner week is coming to an end.  I hope you received a little recognition for your hard work and commitmnt to the NP profession.  To close this important week, let's get back to the basics- our patients. After all, without patients willing to see NP's, we would all be without our jobs.  Patients frequently tell me they love the care nurse practitioners deliver.  But why?

I really believe nurse practitioners are in a unique position to deliver excellent patient care.  We are often less encumbered than our physician co-workers by hospital and clinic politics and management.  We are free to focus on what really matters- people.  Based on a combination of research and patient testimonials, here are the top reasons why I believe patients appreciate nurse practitioner centered care. 

1. We Listen

In one study, 50% of physician patients reported that they felt that doctors "always" listened carefully, compared to 80% of nurse practitioner patients.  Enough said?  NP's are known for their listening skills, for showing empathy to their patients and communicating respectfully with them.  Of course this results in high levels of patient satisfaction with NP delivered care.

2. We Break Things Down

Physicians are smart.  After years of schooling, their brains are packed with medical knowledge.  Their ability to explain this knowledge to a lay-person, however is hit-or-miss.  I often find that patients are confused by what their doctors have told them.  They aren't quite sure exactly how a surgery will work to fix their problem or why they are prescribed certain medications.  Don't get me wrong- I don't explain exactly how ACE inhibitors affect the renin-angiotensin system to my patients- but I think nurse practitioners are better at breaking medical knowledge down for their patients.  We take the time to explain diagnoses as well as how and why certain treatments may be effective.  Our patients appreciate a better understanding of their care. 

3. We Favor Conservative Treatment Options

Most people don't want to be sick.  They don't want to be on medications,  Patients don't want to have surgeries if another treatment option will prove equally effective to relieve their symptoms.  Nurse practitioners get this.  We are less likely to prescribe medications than other providers and more likely to recommend conservative treatment options.  Our patients like having conservative treatment and non-pharmaceutical treatment options for their illnesses.  They want all treatment options presented to them so they can make decisions regarding their health care. NP's respect these wishes.

4. We Keep Our Patients Healthy

One of the prized characteristics of the NP profession is a commitment to preventative care.  Studies show we are living up to our commitment.  For example, research indicates that NP's are more likely to provide counseling for diet, exercise and smoking cessation.  Addressing these issues keeps our patients happy and healthy. 

5. We Save Money

With the buzz surrounding health care reform, patients and politicians alike are realizing the importance of NP's ability to save their patients money.  By writing fewer prescriptions, keeping patients our of the ER and out of the hospital, nurse practitioners reduce the cost of health care for their patients.

Keep up the good work NP's!  Let's continue to deliver high quality care by listening to our patients and keeping them informed decision makers participating in their health, wellness and health care decisions.

Why do you think patients like to see nurse practitioners?