Your Trusted Service Provider

Can a Nurse Practitioner Replace a Physician?
Can a Nurse Practitioner Replace a Physician?
June 04/2023

Can a Nurse Practitioner Replace a Physician?

If you’ve been having a hard time scheduling a prompt appointment with a doctor, it may be due to a shortage of physicians. According to data published in 2020 by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the United States could see a shortage of up to 139,000 physicians by 2033. This limited access to healthcare is certainly no good news, but there may be workarounds. In fact, many are wondering if a nurse practitioner can be a substitute for a primary care physician, or primary care doctors. In this brief article brought to you by the Southern Maryland Medical Group, we explore this idea.

What is a Nurse Practitioner?

Nurse practitioners are highly skilled healthcare professionals who have undergone specialized education and training. They complete advanced education and training beyond the registered nurse level. Nurse practitioners often hold master's or doctoral degrees in nursing and have obtained national certification in their respective specialties.

Though the scope of practice for nurse practitioners may vary depending on the state, they often have the authority to provide a wide range of healthcare services, including diagnosing and treating illnesses, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, prescribing some medications, and providing counseling and education to patients.

Nurse practitioners are advanced-level nurses who collaborate with physicians and other healthcare professionals to deliver comprehensive and holistic care.

What is a Physician?

Physicians, on the other hand, undergo extensive medical education and training. Their rigorous preparation includes four years of medical school and three or more years in residency programs.

Physicians have the highest level of medical training and expertise, enabling them to diagnose and treat complex medical conditions, perform surgeries, and provide specialized care. They often serve as leaders in medical decision-making, providing guidance and oversight for patient care.

Can a Nurse Practitioner Substitute in Place of a Physician?

Nurse Practitioners are highly skilled healthcare professionals who can provide a broad range of services. They are well-equipped to provide routine health assessments, screenings, and preventive care services such as vaccinations, health counseling, and wellness promotion. Nurse practitioners can also diagnose and treat common acute conditions, and they can manage chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension, asthma, and high cholesterol.

Further, nurse practitioners can specialize. Those who have specialized in women's health can provide gynecological exams, prenatal care, contraceptive counseling, and menopausal management. Nurse practitioners specializing in pediatrics can provide well-child exams, immunizations, and manage common childhood illnesses.

With that said, while nurse practitioners possess advanced clinical skills and can provide primary and specialty care in various settings, they do not replace physicians. In more complex or specialized cases, a referral to a physician or specialist may be necessary. Some cases that will typically call for a physician include:

  • Diagnosing and managing complex or rare medical conditions
  • Performing complex medical procedures and surgeries
  • Prescribing certain medications and treatments, such as controlled substances
  • Conducting advanced medical research

It’s important to note again that the scope of practice for nurse practitioners can vary by state, and you should interpret anything in this article as medical advice. If you would like to schedule an appointment with a licensed physician, you can call Southern Maryland Medical Group.

Our Locations

Southern Maryland Medical Group has 3 convenient locations to provide professional medical care services in the Southern Maryland area. Call or schedule an appointment with one of our locations to get medical care help. 

Learn More
Camp Springs, MD

5801 Allentown Road, Suite 400 Camp Spring, MD 20746

Phone: 301-868- 0150

Billing Inquiries: 301-552-1270

Fax: 301-868-0243

Greenbelt, MD

7500 Greenway Center, Dr #1200 Greenbelt, MD 20770

Phone: 301-486-7580

Billing Inquiries: 301-552-1270

Fax: 301-486-7581

Riverdale, MD

6510 Kenilworth Ave, Ste 1400, Riverdale MD 20737

Phone: 301-618-0771

Billing Inquiries: 301-552-1270

Fax: 301-618-0772