By Debbie Purvis
My name is Debbie Purvis and I am so happy to be the newest addition to CRH Family Medicine Group. I have been a registered nurse for 22 years, and have recently completed a nurse practitioner program, passed state boards, and am now certified to provide care in the state of Georgia.
During my 22 years of nursing, I have worked in many different capacities. My hospital experiences include newborn nursery and NICU, operating room and recovery room, as well as a large postpartum, antepartum, gynecological surgery unit. I have also worked as a school nurse and in a wonderful doctor’s office. I decided a long time ago that I would go back to school when the opportunity was available.
I prayed and God made a way. My husband and family were very supportive and the administration at Coffee Regional Medical Center was also very accommodating and encouraging. I could not have asked for anything more. The journey to complete my goal was a long, hard road with a total of six years of nursing education, and my successful graduation from a Master’s Program in Nursing. I am learning new things every day, and will be forever indebted to Dr. Tanner of CRH Family Medicine Group and Coffee Regional Medical Center for the opportunity to work with and learn from her.
The terms “nurse practitioner” and “NP” are becoming quite familiar around Douglas as more and more nurses are opting to continue their education, and join the provider team. These terms are far from new, as nurse practitioners have been around starting as early as 1965. “Nurse practitioner” refers to those nurses who have successfully completed an intensive training program at an accredited institution of higher learning, passed a state board certification, and applied for and obtained a nurse practitioner license.
Of course this begins with the attainment of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), which permits the person to take nursing certification boards to become a registered nurse (RN), which is a requirement in the state of Georgia to be able to use the title registered nurse. All nurse practitioners began their careers as registered nurses. Also in the state of Georgia nurse practitioners are required to keep up their RN license as well as their NP license in order to practice. The training to meet the requirements to become a nurse practitioner includes countless hours of academics, as well as many hours of instruction in the clinic with licensed, experienced nurse practitioners and physicians. It is definitely not a program for the faint of heart.
In recent years there has been a rise in the demand for nurse practitioners due to a shortage of doctors choosing to practice primary care. Insurance plans recognize and allow payment for care provided by mid-level providers. This is making care more accessible to many people, such as those in rural areas.
Other mid-level providers include physician’s assistants (PAs) and certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) who work independently or with anesthesiologists providing care in operating rooms and surgery centers across the nation, as well as certified midwives (CNMs), and others. There are also nurse practitioners who specialize in education and others who take the information technology route, and then those who choose to continue in patient care.
Nurse practitioners sign a protocol agreement with a physician which is a document that frames the nurse practitioner’s ability to provide important patient care while the physician agrees to be available for immediate consultation with the nurse practitioner. This means while they do not have to practice in the same building, they must be accessible by phone at all times. Georgia state law refers to this physician as the “delegating physician.”
Nurse practitioners in the state of Georgia practice according to the protocol agreement they have signed with the delegating physician. The standard, by which nurse practitioners practice is referred to as the scope of practice, and is governed by the Nurse Practice Act in Georgia. This means that a nurse practitioner must only do what they are licensed and trained to do. Georgia is one of the most stringent states when it comes to the laws governing nurse practitioners.
In Coffee County, you can find nurse practitioners in family practice clinics, specialty clinics, the health department, walk-in clinics, as well as the hospital. They provide wellness care, perform check-ups, and diagnose and treat illnesses. They order lab testing, diagnostic testing, and prescribe medications and treatment plans for the young and old alike. They emphasize wellness and prevention of disease. They do referrals to specialty physicians and coordinate care plans to meet the needs of each individual patient. They work as an integral part of the health care team to provide quality evidence-based health care and education to their patients.
Mid-level providers are well qualified to help you please give them a chance to assess, diagnose, and develop a treatment plan, and then follow-up with you to evaluate the success of that plan. They are in place to work as a part of the community health care team to assist in the delivery of quality, cost-effective healthcare to Coffee and surrounding counties. They are here to serve you. You can rest assured that you will be in good hands.