Your Health Care Team
What is a Cardiologist?
A cardiologist is a doctor with special training and skill in finding, treating and preventing diseases of the heart and blood vessels.
If your general medical doctor feels that you might have a significant heart or related condition, he or she will often call on a cardiologist for help. Symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pains, or dizzy spells often require special testing. Sometimes heart murmurs or ECG changes need the evaluation of a cardiologist. Cardiologists help people with heart disease return to a full and useful life. Heart doctors also counsel patients about the risks of heart disease and how to prevent it. Most important, cardiologists help treat heart attacks, heart failure, and serious heart rhythm disturbances. Their skills and training are required for decisions that involve procedures such as cardiac catheterization, balloon angioplasty, or heart surgery.
What is a Physician Assistant?
A physician assistant (PA) is a health care professional who is authorized by a state to practice medicine as part of a team with a physician or group of physicians. PAs deliver a broad range of medical and surgical services. Those include: conduct physical exams, obtain medical histories, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive health care, assist in procedures, and prescribe medications. You may see a PA in the hospital admitting patients, performing hospital rounds, supervising stress testing, or assisting the cardiologists in the cardiac catheterization lab and electrophysiology lab. They are trained and certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support and can respond to cardiac emergencies.
In the office setting, PAs have training to see stable cardiac patients as well as those who are acutely ill. They perform pre-operative clearance exams for non-cardiac surgery. They can perform consultation evaluations on new cardiac patients. Cardiology PAs work as a team in collaboration with the cardiologist(s).
What is a Nurse Practitioner?
Nurse practitioners (NPs) are registered nurses who are prepared, through advanced education and clinical training, to provide a wide range of preventive and acute health care services to individuals of all ages. NPs complete graduate-level education preparation that leads to a master’s degree. NPs take health histories and provide complete physical examinations; diagnose and treat many common acute and chronic problems (such as diabetes, high blood pressure, infections and injuries); interpret laboratory results and X-rays; prescribe and manage medications and other therapies; provide health teaching and supportive counseling with an emphasis on prevention of illness and health maintenance; and refer patients to other health professionals as needed.
What is a Registered Nurse?
Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members.
Registered nurses perform physical exams and health histories, counseling and education patients about their health. RNs may also administer medications, interpret patient information and make critical decisions about needed actions. Additionally, RNs coordinate care, in collaboration with a wide array of health care professionals and may direct and supervise care delivered by other health care personnel.
What is a Clinical Pharmacist?
Clinical pharmacists are the medication experts. You might not realize it, but they do much more than count tablets and pour liquids. They routinely provide medication recommendations to patients and health care professionals. Clinical pharmacist researchers generate, disseminate, and apply new knowledge that contributes to improved health and quality of life. Clinical pharmacists are a primary source of advice regarding the safe, appropriate, and cost-effective use of medications. They often collaborate with physicians and other health care professionals. In some states, clinical pharmacists are given prescriptive authority under protocol with a medical provider (i.e., MD or DO), and their scope of practice is constantly evolving.