More people are getting to know their Nurse Practitioner (NP) by name, and you should too. Why? Because according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, NP’s are the No. 1 fastest growing occupation in the U.S. over the next decade, and are expected to grow 40% from 2021 to 2031. And more importantly, NPs are qualified healthcare professionals who can serve as a patients’ Primary Care Physician and address any primary, acute, and specialty health care needs.

DEEPER DIVE: What’s new with Valley fever in Arizona for 2023?

In Arizona, a nurse practitioner has full practice authority, which means that we do not require physician supervision to assess, diagnose, provide treatment or prescribe medications for our patients. Another reason you should know your NP by name? We are easier to access and we spend more time with our patients. The extra attention is especially important for patients to achieve better health outcomes and a well-documented benefit for patients from LGBTQ+ and minority communities as well as people with chronic conditions.

There is no doubt that a primary care visit is your best ally in prevention and wellness. But, before your primary care appointment, I recommend preparing a few questions to make the most of your visit, including:

What wellness tests should I have?

The tests recommended at the time of visit are often contingent on your family’s medical history and previous tests. If you aren’t sure of your family history, your lifestyle and age will play a role.

Can you explain these results?

The results you’re provided following a medical test can be complex and difficult to decipher, often containing various abbreviations, many of which may be unfamiliar to you. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification and further explanation on your test results. A good primary care visit means that time is taken to walk through all of the results and important next steps should they reveal a condition that requires management, like heart disease or diabetes.

How does my family history affect my health?

Your DNA is not your destiny, but knowing your family’s medical history is a plus. While our genetic makeup can be predictors for certain chronic diseases, ongoing research in epigenetics shows us that our lifestyle and environmental factors (stress, food availability, air and water quality) determines 70-95% of the risk for developing most diseases.

I’m concerned about ‘X’. What precautions should I take?

Creating an open and honest line of communication with your primary care provider helps you take charge of your health. By expressing your specific health concerns, your provider can evaluate your health risks, make recommendations, and coordinate care with specialists, if your concern warrants the attention of a specific field of medicine.

One question I always ask my patients

I always ask my patients about their sexual orientation and sexual history. This is important because based on their answers, there would be specific screening questions I would be prompted to ask. Based on your sexual orientation and history, you may be more at risk for certain cancers or STI’s. While these questions may feel uncomfortable to you, they need to be discussed.

Author: Ari Kravitz is a Family Nurse Practitioner at Spectrum Medical Center, a Phoenix-based clinic that specializes in state-of-the-art, competent and compassionate primary care for LGBTQ+ patients and is a leading provider of primary care, preventative care, HIV care, as well as PrEP, PEP and STI testing services.