Don't be surprised if you find you're choosing the nurse practitioner, because you can get an appointment faster. The legislature has just passed a bill giving a little more freedom to nurse practitioners.
Laura Rooney is an advanced nurse practitioner who takes care of adults. Carol Anselmo is also an advanced nurse practitioner. She keeps preemie babies alive at Texas Children's neonatal intensive care unit.
Texas Children's Hospital has 300 nurse practitioners employed, and 52 of them work in the neonatal intensive care unit, taking care of the tiniest and sickest babies.
"A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse, and they have advanced university education in addition to extensive clinical training," Anselmo said.
Advanced nurse practitioners allow doctors to focus on children with the most complex problems.
"The physician is there to help the nurse practitioner, if needed, with the complicated case. Or the physician takes care of the more complicated case, and the advanced practice nurse takes care of the more routine," said Dr. Michaelo Speer, medical director at the Texas Children's Hospital Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program.
State Bill 406 passed by the Texas Legislature allows a physican to supervise seven nurse practitioners; that's up from four. And the physician doesn't have to be onsite, just in touch. Many in the Med Center applaud this change because Texas has a huge shortage of primary care doctors.
"Making more nurse practitioners available to the citizens of the state of Texas is a real big advantage," said Dr. Thomas Mackey, PhD/UT Health Services Primary Care Clinic.
Mother Carla McCuen, says Anselmo, the nurse practitioner, has kept her premature son alive.
"With the doctors, they let you know but you really don't know what's going on. But with Carol, she lets you know, she breaks it down and I really do love that," McCuen said.
Also new from the State Legislature: You can skip a form at the doctor's office, by using your driver's license to load your information into their system.