Jewels Doskicz is a registered nurse, freelance writer, patient advocate, health coach, and long-distance cyclist. Jewels is the moderator of Diabetic Connect’s weekly #DCDE Twitter chat, and she and her daughter both live healthfully with type 1 diabetes.

Who will your next medical appointment be with—a physician or a nurse practitioner?

Odds are it could be a nurse practitioner. Healthcare experts have been forecasting shortfalls in the number of primary care physicians for some time. Fortunately, nurse practitioners are ready to fill the gap.

According to The New York Times, "since they are reimbursed less than physicians, policymakers are quick to point out, increasing the number of nurse practitioners could lower healthcare costs."

So, what is a nurse practitioner?

  • Nurse practitioners hold master's degree or, in some cases, a doctorate degree.
  • Nurse practitioners can order tests, diagnose conditions, and prescribe medications for a wide range of diseases within their scope of practice.
  • They are qualified to serve as primary healthcare providers for the entire age spectrum.
  • Nurse practitioners are board certified in their specialty areas (e.g., pediatrics, family medicine, etc.) and are licensed by the State Board of Nursing.
  • Nurse practitioners can be found in clinics, hospitals, offices, and operating rooms, providing primary or specialty care services to patients.