Nurse practitioners find fulfilling careers in area

(Gannett) Lavonne Sisler sees a nurse practitioner for her health care needs.  She belongs to a growing list of patients in Crawford County who use nurse practioners as their primary health care provider.

“I also take my 15-year-old daughter Tori to see a nurse practitioner,” Sisler said.

“Nurse practitioners seem to be more personable, caring and focused on us as patients. She spends more time with us than doctors have in the past, and Tori is more comfortable.”

There are 16 nurse practitioners in Crawford County and several nurses that are furthering their education to obtain their license as a nurse practitioner. Nurse practitioners must complete graduate-level education preparation that leads to a master’s degree.

“Less medical school graduates are going into family practice but instead choosing to specialize in fields such as orthopedics and pediatrics,” said nurse practitioner Susan Albright, who recently sold her business, Crawford Health and Urgent Care, to MedCentral of Mansfield. “Specialists get reimbursed higher amounts than family physicians.”

Albright will continue to see patients and manage the facility.

Nurse practitioner Cindy Barlage sees Sisler and her daughter.

“As a registered nurse, I wanted to do more for my patients,” Barlage said. “I wanted to not only be part of their treatment but to also be able to diagnose and educate them on their illness and treatments. I made the decision to go back to school to become a nurse practitioner several years ago and obtained my license in 2008.”

According to the American College of Nurse Practitioners, its members 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.

“We can diagnose and prescribe and manage medications,” Albright said.

Nurse practitioners can take health histories, provide complete physical examinations, diagnose and treat many common acute and chronic problems.

“We can also interpret laboratory results and X-rays. I think our strongest point is that we provide health teaching and supportive counseling. We focus on the patient,” Albright said. “We also help maintain their health through teaching ways to prevent illness and how to continue their treatments.

“We have a great relationship with area specialists and refer patients to other health professionals as needed.”

Albright said Ohio nurse practitioners can prescribe schedule II drugs, too.

“We were one of the last states to get through that barrier,” Albright said. “It was a huge hurdle for us in managing patients’ needs.”

Albright credits the Ohio Association of Advanced Practice Nurses for helping push the bill through.

“They are a lobby group for us that helps with things like legislation and reimbursement,” Albright said. “They are our voice in Columbus to get a bill through.”

Albright said the majority of insurance companies identify nurse practitioners as primary care providers.

“Medicare is one of the last and still gives us issues,” Albright said.