What is an APP?

One of the most common questions we receive is, “what is an APP?”. Oftentimes, an Advanced Practice Provider (APP) or Physician Assistant or Nurse Practitioner, is the first person a patient would see after being discharged from the hospital. They may also see you if you have an urgent concern and need to be seen that same day, or if you have a procedure approaching, or have a question before your next routine follow-up. In all cases, their role is to extend the care provided by our physicians.

Physician Assistant (PAs), as well as Nurse Practitioners (NPs), make up our team of APPs. After completing their medical training, PAs and NPs are nationally certified and licensed to practice in their respective state(s). They evaluate symptoms, order tests and procedures, make diagnoses, provide referrals, and write prescriptions. Their clinical training stems from prior clinical experience that serves as a prerequisite for enrollment to an accredited program. In fact, the first PAs were former Navy corpsmen returning from deployments in the Vietnam War and went on to graduate from Duke University in 1967. Similarly, the first NP was a nurse named Loretta Ford who was trained at the University of Colorado in 1965 to respond to the growing demand for pediatric hospital care with rising RSV cases. PAs and NPs continue to rise to meet the challenges that face our medical system in light of physician shortages and an increase in demand on our healthcare system.

Not only will you encounter our APPs in our general cardiology practice, but we have APPs trained in sub-specialties such as advanced heart failure, structural heart, sleep medicine and electrophysiology. The team of APPs work under direct supervision and guidance of the physicians, this allows them to provide the same care your cardiologist or sleep medicine physician would give you. This partnership enables our providers to promptly address your needs without a delay in care.

To learn more about the origin, training, and capabilities of APPs, please visit the American Academy of Physician Associates (AAPA) “What is a PA?” page and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners “NP Fact Sheet” page.

Drew Venuto, PA-C, is a general cardiology advanced practice provider at Virginia Heart.