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Nurse Practitioners Give Special Care: September 26, 2013

Chances are your doctor’s office depends on nurse practitioners to help with patient load.

“We’re actually a great compliment to physicians and especially in primary care nowadays with the shortage of primary care physicians,” says Arlene Wright, nurse practitioner with Lee Memorial Health System.

Managing common complaints, chronic conditions along with those same-day sick visits, practitioners are filling a void.

“We order and interpret tests, we perform physical examinations. The only things that we cannot prescribe in the state of Florida are controlled substances which are narcotics - medications to help sleep, pain medications,” says Wright.

Their training makes them a front-line asset in meeting the healthcare needs of an aging population.

“We kind of bring to the table the best compliment of caring and curing,” says Wright.

But in practice, nurse practitioners are evolving in much the same way doctors did. About half of them are forgoing primary care in favor of specialty medicine, adding to the team-centered approach now common in health care.

“Oftentimes people confuse palliative care with hospice care,” says Lolita Melhado, nurse practitioner with Lee Memorial Health System.

Lolita Melhado is part of a palliative care team. That also includes a doctor and two social workers. Working mostly in a hospital she tends to the comfort needs of chronically, seriously ill patients.

“Palliative care really allows you to spend the time with patients and families and understand them a little bit better. Knowing there’s really somebody there that cares,” says Melhado.

Sherri Campbell works in a Golisano Children’s Hospital specialty clinic, helping premature babies catch up in their development.

“We can’t fix everything, but we try and maximize the potential for every child that comes through,” says Sherri Campbell, nurse practitioner with Lee Memorial Health System.

Nurse practitioners often take up labors of love- helping heal a community.