Advanced Practice Providers Standing in the Lobby of OSF Saint James

Advanced Practice Providers: Key players on your care team

Ministry-wide, OSF HealthCare is dedicated to ensuring that patients have access to the care they need when and where they need it. One way that OSF HealthCare aims to achieve this is with the help of advanced practice providers (APPs).

APPs include advanced practice nurses (APRNs) and physician assistants (PA). “These providers have advanced training and education in providing medical care for patients,” said Melinda Cooling, APRN, Vice President of Advance Practice at OSF HealthCare “They have the ability to do physical exams, determine diagnoses, prescribe treatment, order testing and more.”

Working Together

Today, health care is moving toward a team approach. This means that each team member brings a different set of skills and works together, with the patient, to deliver comprehensive care.

“If a patient arrives in the Emergency Department, the first person they’re likely to see is an APP,” said Samantha Smith, PA, a hospitalist at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center. “We’re able to start putting the pieces together to formulate a diagnosis and treatment plan often before they’re even admitted to the hospital or see a physician.”

At OSF HealthCare, APPs are in nearly every service line including acute care, home care, skilled nursing, subspecialties and more. “APPs can reduce access time for patients,” Cooling said. “If a patient is newly diagnosed with diabetes, for instance, they’re often able to be seen much sooner by an APP.”

In rural settings, APPs are increasingly providing the majority of care. This means that patients have access to medical care they need that may not have been available there before.

Keeping Pace with Change

Both health care and the population are rapidly changing. The population is growing and aging while health care is shifting its focus from not only treating patients who are sick, but also helping to prevent disease and keep people well.

“As we strive to meet the growing needs of our population and take better care of our patients, more providers are needed,” Cooling said. “Thanks to their training and skillset, APPs are often the ones filling those roles.”