What is a Gastroenterologist?
A gastroenterologist is a physician who has had additional, special, and extensive training in the field of gastroenterology.
Gastroenterology covers disorders of the entire gastrointestinal tract, which includes the esophagus, stomach, duodenum, small bowel, and colon, as well as diseases of the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas.
A gastroenterologist has had an average of 12-15 years of education and training beyond high school, with the last 2-3 years spent acquiring special knowledge and skills in gastroenterology. He or she functions primarily as a consultant to other physicians; but in some special diseases, such as ulcerative colitis, he might assume primary care of the patient or become his principal physician.
What is a Nurse Practitioner?
A nurse practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse (RN) who has completed advanced education (a minimum of a master's degree) and training in the diagnosis and management of common medical conditions, including chronic illnesses. Nurse practitioners provide a broad range of health care services. They provide some of the same care provided by physicians and maintain close working relationships with physicians. An NP can serve as a patient's regular health care provider.
A nurse practitioner's duties include the following:
- Collaborating with physicians and other health professionals as needed, including providing referrals
- Counseling and educating patients on health behaviors, self-care skills, and treatment options
- Diagnosing and treating acute illnesses, infections, and injuries
- Diagnosing, treating, and monitoring chronic diseases (e.g., diabetes, high blood pressure)
- Obtaining medical histories and conducting physical examinations
- Ordering, performing, and interpreting diagnostic studies (e.g., lab tests, x-rays, EKGs)
- Prescribing medications
Nurse practitioners provide high-quality, cost-effective individualized care that is comparable to the health care provided by physicians.