What is a nurse practitioner? Can I see one instead of a GP?

If you’ve ever heard the title ‘nurse practitioner’, you may have wondered what it means. What’s the difference between a nurse practitioner and a general practitioner?

Put simply, nurse practitioners, or ‘NPs’, are nurses that have undergone additional studies so that they can operate more independently and provide more clinical services than regular nurses. NPs can assess, diagnose and manage your health concerns and are able to provide referrals, prescriptions and diagnostic tests such as X-rays. However, NPs are not qualified to the same level as a GP and therefore aren’t able to provide as broad a range of services. Therefore, it is best to see a GP for serious, complex, or ongoing health concerns.

So when can I see a nurse practitioner? NPs are specialised in one of the following areas:

  • Aged care
  • Emergency care
  • Mental health
  • Chronic disease conditions
  • Palliative care
  • Women’s health
  • Oncology
  • Community and primary care
  • Neonatal and paediatrics

This means you can see a nurse practitioner for any concerns relating to these areas. Additionally, if a nurse practitioner isn’t able to help you directly, they’ll be able to refer you to a health professional that can. So, if you’re looking to avoid the wait at the GP’s, or you only have a minor concern like needing to renew a script or get a flu shot, why not see an NP instead?

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