What are advanced practice providers?



Your child is running a fever and complaining of a sore throat, so you call your pediatrician’s office for an appointment. Your pediatrician doesn’t have any available appointments, but you’re told the nurse practitioner and/or physician assistant on duty can see your child. Is this OK? What is a nurse practitioner? What is a physician assistant? Are they qualified to take care of my child? What if my child needs a prescription? Many parents express these concerns, and have asked the same exact questions. 

Nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) are also called advanced practice providers (APPs). They hold master’s degrees, are trained in specialty areas such as pediatrics or family practice and are board-certified.

APPs can take a patient’s health history, perform physical exams, diagnose illnesses and develop treatment plans. APPs are licensed in all 50 states and can prescribe medications. APPs can deliver much of the health care services that kids require, consulting doctors and specialists as needed. APPs can treat illnesses such as upper respiratory infections, ear infections, sore throats, rashes and urinary tract infections. They can also assist with management of chronic illnesses like asthma, allergies and diabetes. APPs can perform well-child exams and deliver immunizations. Educating children and their families about normal growth and development issues is a large part of a pediatric APP's role. The APPs at Texas Children’s Pediatrics maintain close working relationships with your child’s pediatrician, and will consult with them, as needed, to provide the best possible care for your child. 

“As a family, we chose to stick with our nurse practitioner because our experience has been great,” said Patrice, a mother of two boys, regarding her experience with an APP at Texas Children’s Pediatrics. “Our NP is very knowledgeable and expresses that our concerns for the boys are her concerns, too. Our NP not only provides us with excellent clinical care, but places a large emphasis on health education. Although most of our visits have been sick visits, our NP does an excellent job in all instances, from bed side manner to providing us with the tools we need to keep our little ones healthy at home!”

Many of the Texas Children’s Pediatrics offices have APPs on staff to supplement the care provided by physicians. Offices that are part of the Walk in Now (WIN) program have APPs who see patients without an appointment. Texas Children’s Pediatrics is committed to providing your children with exceptional care, and we have well-qualified APPs to help us do just that. Our APPs are often involved in other activities in addition to patient care, including participation in research, staff education, legislative activities and training for future nurses, NPs and PAs. They’re also actively involved in supporting their communities, too. If you have more questions regarding the role of APPs at Texas Children’s, please just ask! We will be happy to talk with you.