Types of Providers

Learn more about the types of providers at Swedish:

A medical doctor (MD) is a licensed physician who is a graduate of an accredited medical school.

Primary Care MDs deliver the basic diagnostic and preventive medical care that patients most often need. They usually have one of these specialties:

  • Family Medicine: Family medicine physicians provide comprehensive medical care with an emphasis on caring for all members of the family. Family medicine builds upon a core of knowledge derived from other disciplines, primarily pediatrics, internal medicine, OB/GYN, geriatrics, surgery and psychiatry. The family medicine physician plays the role of personal physician.
  • Internal Medicine: A broad-based medical field in which physicians rely on their knowledge of major organs to diagnose and treat patients. Internists treat a variety of afflictions, from colds and heart problems to infectious diseases. Internists often serve as a patient's primary doctor, coordinating all that person's health care.
  • Pediatric Family Medicine: A doctor who specializes in the health care of children, from birth through adolescence. By focusing specifically on kids, they gain a lot of expertise about health issues of babies and children.

A doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) is a physician licensed to practice medicine, perform surgery and prescribe medication.

A DO is a fully-trained and licensed physician who has graduated from an osteopathic medical school. A doctor of medicine (MD) has graduated from an allopathic medical school.

Like MDs, osteopathic physicians complete four years of medical school and can choose to practice in any specialty of medicine. However, osteopathic physicians receive an additional 300-500 hours in the study of hands-on manual medicine and the body's musculoskeletal system.

Like MDs, osteopathic physicians are licensed at the state level. Osteopathic physicians may become "board certified" (in much the same manner as MDs) by completing a two- to six-year residency within a specialty area and passing board certification exams.

DOs practice in all specialties of medicine—from emergency medicine and cardiovascular surgery to psychiatry and geriatrics. A majority of osteopathic doctors use many of the medical and surgical treatments that are used by MDs.

DOs share many of the same goals as MDs, but place greater emphasis on the relationship between the organs and the musculoskeletal system, as well as treating the whole individual rather than just the disease.

An advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP) is a registered nurse who completes a graduate-level educational program. An ARNP can have primary responsibility for patient care. Additional ARNP roles include certified registered nurse anesthetists and certified nurse midwives. ARNPs practice independently and also may work with physicians and other health care professionals.

ARNPs complete either a master's or doctoral degree program. They receive advanced clinical training beyond that of a registered nurse. ARNPs also complete national certification, periodic peer review, clinical outcome evaluations and adhere to a code for ethical practices.

The licensed ARNP may:

  • Examine patients and establish diagnoses by patient history, physical examination and other assessments
  • Admit, manage and discharge patients to and from health care facilities
  • Order, collect, perform and interpret diagnostic tests
  • Manage health care by identifying, developing, implementing and evaluating a plan of care and treatment for patients
  • Prescribe therapies and medical equipment
  • Prescribe medications when necessary
  • Refer patients to other health care providers, services or facilities

At Swedish, ARNPs care for patients across many health care services within clinic and hospital settings. Services include general health, such as acute care, family and gerontology, women’s, neonatal and pediatric/child, and psychiatric/mental health. ARNPs can also provide specialties services, such as allergy and immunology, cardiovascular, dermatology, emergency, endocrinology, gastroenterology, hematology and oncology, neurology, stroke, neurological surgery, occupational health, orthopedics, pulmonology and respiratory, sports medicine, urology and vascular surgery.

A physician assistant-certified (PA-C) is a graduate of an accredited physician assistant educational program who has undergone testing by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. PA-Cs are state-licensed to practice medicine with a supervising physician.

The PA-C educational program is modeled after medical school curriculum and completed over the course of about 27 months. Training includes a combination of classroom and clinical  instruction. Students who want to become PA-Cs must have completed at least two years of college courses in basic science and behavioral science. This is similar to pre-med studies required of medical students.

PA-Cs complete more than 2,000 hours of clinical training in services such as family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, general surgery, emergency medicine and psychiatry. When PA-Cs graduate from their program, they must take national certification tests, commonly called boards.

Services provided by a PA-C:

  • Physical examinations
  • Diagnose and treat illnesses
  • Prescribe medication
  • Order and interpret lab tests
  • Perform procedures
  • Assist in surgery
  • Provide patient education and counseling
  • Make rounds in hospitals and nursing homes

Swedish employs PA-Cs in a wide range of clinical areas, including cardiology, hospital medicine, neurosciences, obstetrics and gynecology, primary care, urgent care and other surgical specialties. Every PA-C has a supervising physician.

Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) are independent health care providers. In Washington state they are one of the three main subgroups of advanced registered nurse practitioners. CNMs are educated in two disciplines: midwifery and nursing. CNMs earn master’s or doctoral degrees, complete a certified midwifery education program and pass a national certification examination. CNMs at Swedish have hospital admitting privileges and do not require physician supervision.

CNMs provide health care services for women, including:

  • Primary care
  • Gynecology and family planning services
  • Pre-conception, pregnancy, childbirth and after childbirth
  • Newborn care for the first 28 days of life
  • CNMS can also treat a woman’s male partner for sexually-transmitted infections and prescribe medications.

Midwifery is considered to be a blend of art and science. Beyond encouraging health and well-being, preventing disease and providing health education, midwifery:

  • Supports women’s’ normal conception, pregnancy and childbirth processes
  • Incorporates scientific evidence into clinical practice
  • Incorporates complementary and alternative therapies in education and practice
  • Promotes woman- and family-centered care
  • Empowers women as partners in health care
  • Facilitates healthy family and interpersonal relationships
  • Promotes a public health care perspective
  • Provides care to vulnerable populations
  • Advocates for informed choice, shared decision-making and the right to self-determination
  • Values skillful communication, guidance and counseling
  • How are CNMs educated and trained?