What does an advanced practice provider do?

UChicago Medicine advanced practice providers (APPs)

Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are commonly referred to as advanced practice providers (APPs). These highly trained individuals provide much of the same patient-focused care as doctors.

The University of Chicago Medicine employs nearly 600 APPs, a number that is likely to exceed 1,000 in a few years. APPs work at all UChicago Medicine locations and in nearly every specialty, including cardiology, critical care, gastroenterology, transplant medicine and surgery.

“Our healthcare system is growing rapidly,” said Brooke Schweitzer, DMSc, MSPA, PA-C, Executive Director of Advanced Practice Providers at UChicago Medicine. “As we grow, we need to expand access for our patients throughout the greater Chicagoland region, and this is where APPs can shine.”

Schweitzer spoke more about APPs and their key roles in patient care.

What is an advanced practice provider (APP)?

APP is the umbrella term we use for physician assistants, nurse practitioners, certified registered nurse anesthetists, certified nurse midwives and clinical nurse specialists.

We collaborate with each other and our physician partners to provide care in both inpatient and outpatient settings.

What does an APP’s job typically entail?

Depending on their specialty, APPs spend their time assessing and diagnosing patients, developing treatment plans, prescribing medications, ordering and interpreting laboratory and radiographic tests, and educating patients on their condition and treatment.

APPs can also do procedures, performing everything from lumbar punctures and chest tube insertions to skin biopsies, and they may assist surgeons in the operating room.

UChicago Medicine APPs Bridget McGrath, PA; Frank Umbriaco, AGACNP-BC; Laura Urciuoli, FNP-BC; and Alisa Heitman, MSN, NP-C, on the job.
UChicago Medicine APPs Bridget McGrath, PA; Frank Umbriaco, AGACNP-BC; Laura Urciuoli, FNP-BC; and Alisa Heitman, MSN, NP-C, on the job.

How do APPs complement the work of physicians?

Medicine is a team sport, and our team is stronger with APPs and physicians working together.

For example, you may see an APP in the emergency room to diagnose and care for your injury, or as your primary care provider in our outpatient family medicine clinics. You might also see an APP to remove stitches after surgery or while admitted to the hospital on daily rounds.

Our work is not to replace physicians but to augment the care provided to our patients to increase access and solve healthcare disparities. This collaboration lets APPs take charge of routine visits and ongoing medical condition management, giving physicians more time to see patients who need their specific expertise.

Why should UChicago Medicine patients trust an APP with their care?

Our APPs go through rigorous educational training. They obtain a master’s degree and complete thousands of hours of patient care training before practicing, and they participate in ongoing education while in practice to stay up-to-date on the latest treatments.

APPs are held to the same credentialing and privileging process as our UChicago Medicine physicians to ensure the care they deliver is not only safe but of the highest quality. We are here to prioritize your health and get you the care you need, right when you need it.