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MD, PA, or NP? What Different Healthcare Providers Do

Lauren Amenedo, MS, FNP-BC

May 9, 2023

MD, PA, or NP? What Different Healthcare Providers Do

Enter almost any doctor’s office, and you may find yourself feeling like you’re in a bowl of alphabet soup. In addition to the physician (who may be an MD or a DO), there could be PAs, NPs, and FNPs. But what do those terms mean?

With the exception of surgery, a physician assistant (PA), nurse practitioner (NP), and FNP (family nurse practitioner) – grouped together as advanced practice providers, or APPs – can provide you with the kind of knowledge, skills and compassion that you deserve.

The goal of the Hospital’s APPs is to increase our patients’ access to exceptional care while maintaining continuity. Patients seeing an APP benefit not only from receiving a comprehensive visit from a seasoned NP or PA, but also having the peace of mind that the APP is working as part of their care team.

MDs/primary care physicians are made aware of each patient’s visits, any changes to their patient’s medical regimens, and are included/consulted in complex medical decision-making.

Here is what you need to know about these different APPs:

Nurse Practitioner (NP) and Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP):

The NP role was created in the 1960s by two MDs in Colorado who needed to increase their patients’ access to pediatric care. NPs in New York have full practice authority and are able to evaluate, test, diagnose, manage treatments and prescribe medications for patients without having to sign a contract agreement with a supervising physician.

As indicated by its name, a family nurse practitioner (FNP) is a nurse practitioner who specializes in family medicine and treats a diverse patient base, providing care to patients throughout their lifetimes, much as a family physician does.

There are more than 355,000 NPs and FNPs licensed in the U.S.

Physician Assistant (PA):

The PA role was established in 1967. While also able to evaluate, test, diagnose, manage treatments and prescribe medications, they are required to have a supervising physician.

There are currently more than 168,300 PAs in the U.S.

At our White Plains Hospital Physician Associates practice, we have 20 NPs, 10 PAs, and one certified nurse-midwife, while our Scarsdale Medical Group includes nine NPs and one PA.

My Story

Soon after becoming a Registered Nurse (RN) in 2003, I began to crave the ability to make decisions for my patients in real time as issues arose. In 2004 I began my Master of Science degree to become an FNP. I spent my time working as a per diem RN at White Plains Hospital during the day and attending classes at night. Shortly thereafter, I began my clinical training, spending hundreds of hours practicing adult, pediatric and women’s health medicine.

In 2007 I began to practice as an FNP and immediately fell in love with the role. I was able to spend quality time caring for my patients as I assessed and managed issues through medication management and patient education. In addition, I quickly became aware of the APP's value and became an advocate for nurses considering their NP degree.

In my current role as Director of Clinical Services, I have been able to ensure that our APPs are practicing within their scope to deliver sound medical care while advocating for their autonomy.

We are very proud of our APP team and value their roles as providers who help to ensure our patients access to prompt care.

Lauren Amenedo, MS, FNP-BC

Lauren Amenedo, MS, FNP-BC, is Director of Clinical Services at Scarsdale Medical Group. Although she is not currently accepting new patients, she encourages patients to call 914-723-8100 for assistance in making an appointment with another provider.