Friday, October 12, 2018

They’re a key part of Summit Health and dedicated to keeping the Franklin County community healthy.

If you recently called for an appointment at a Summit Health practice, there’s a chance you will see an Advanced Practice Provider.

What is that?

Advanced practice providers, including nurse practitioners and physician assistants are healthcare professionals who have advanced degrees and clinical training.  In addition to examining and educating patients, they can order tests, prescribe medications and perform certain procedures.

“Nationally and across Pennsylvania, we are faced with a physician shortage. As the population continues to grow and age, there’s more of a need for physicians,” said Niki Hinckle, senior vice president of physician services.

The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates a physician shortage exceeding 100 thousand by the year 2030.

 “If effectively integrated, advanced practice providers can help bridge the gap and reduce the effects of the shortage.  At Summit Physician Services, we have been integrating these highly trained professionals into our practices to offer, more accessible care to our patients,” explained Hinkle.

Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are positively affecting healthcare outcomes in every area of Summit Health.  From primary care, to specialty practices, to hospital medicine, these providers are making relationships with patients and creating a healthier Franklin County.

“I feel most patients will find that APPs are very attentive and are often able to take more time to listen to their concerns,” said Kyrene Zack, PA-C, Summit Ear, Nose and Throat. “In this office, APPs allow our busy practice to see more patients in a timely manner, rather than waiting for weeks to be seen by a physician.”

Nurse practitioners

Nurse practitioners have at least six years of advanced academic and clinical training. They also must pass a rigorous national certification exam and meet state licensure requirements.

“A nurse practitioner delivers a unique blend of medical care,” said Jane Rice, DNP, CRNP, Summit Primary Care. “We all got our start as nurses trained to treat the whole person. Through schooling we obtained advanced degrees, but that nursing base never goes away.”

Nurse practitioners provide advanced primary, acute and specialty care for patients across the Summit Health system.

I believe my background in nursing has helped to sharpen my physical assessment skills to pick up on things I may otherwise not have noticed,” said Tiffany Katsaros, CRNP, Summit Primary Care. “I try to develop a relationship of trust with my patients that goes both ways. For a care plan to work, we both have to do our parts.”

Physician assistants

“The biggest difference between the PA profession and physicians is the duration of training,” explains Edward Schuurman, PA-C, Summit Primary Care. “After three years of training, I started my first position with extensive ‘on-the -job’ training, whereas physicians have a more formalized training program called residency.”

The typical program for a physician assistant includes a combination of classroom instruction and clinical experience. Most have an undergraduate education in biological, pre-medical and scientific areas of study.

“As a board-certified PA, I must continue to take classes for continuing education and take board exams every 10 years. We never stop learning, “said Zack.


Summit Health fosters an environment of teamwork. Doctors, nurses, advance practice providers and nursing assistants all have a hand in patient care.

“In our office, all providers collaborate if there are questions about a patient, diagnosis or medical treatment.  Though we come from different training, our goal is to care for each one of our patients,” said Rice.

“I have the privilege of working directly with all of my colleagues, including all three supervising physicians and my two fellow PA's. If we are seeing a mutual patient, we will discuss their condition and care to ensure we are all on the same page,” said Zack.


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