Nurse Practitioner Caroline Lovelace - Pearce

Celebrate Your Nurse Practitioner

Happy Nurse Practitioner’s Week to ME! This year’s theme is “NP’s: Rising to Meet the Needs of Patients.”

I joined Arboretum Gynecology in January as the only nurse practitioner to have practiced here. Have you ever wondered what exactly a nurse practitioner (NP) is, what we do, and what sets us apart from our MD counterparts? The NP role has been around for over 50 years, and just this year, U.S. News & World Report named NP the top health care job in 2022!

Nurse practitioners provide medical care in all settings, including primary care clinics, specialty and subspecialty clinics, hospitals, home health, and more. The demand for healthcare in the United States is rapidly increasing at a time when the number of physicians retiring outnumbers those entering the profession. Patients deserve access to quality health care, and NPs are rising to meet this demand. If you are reading this, chances are you have seen an NP for medical care.

Sometimes the NP role can be misunderstood; after all, “practitioner” sounds like “practice,” which I think is confusing language. Are nurse practitioners practicing to be nurses? What does it all mean? My patients can attest that I love to explain things, so here’s a breakdown of what it means to be an NP.

What a Nurse Practitioner is:

  • Advanced practice providers who are highly trained medical professionals with graduate-level educations.
  • Clinicians who assess patients, order and interpret diagnostic tests, diagnose and treat both acute and chronic medical conditions, and prescribe medications.
  • Medical providers who skillfully blend clinical competency with a focus on disease prevention and health promotion
  • Shown in study after study to provide care that is “safe, effective, patient-centered, efficient, equitable, and evidence-based,” while also being comparable in quality and outcomes to their physician colleagues. (

What a Nurse Practitioner is NOT:

  • Physicians. While we often provide similar services, our training and education are distinctly different. NPs will consult with or refer to physicians for their expertise in complex medical care. A close collaborative relationship between an NP and physician means high-quality patient care and optimal outcomes.
  • Independent practitioners in the state of North Carolina. North Carolina is one of 14 states that require NPs to have a collaborating physician who provides oversight. Each NP and physician partnership develops a collaborative practice agreement to structure how they work together to deliver patient care.

Are NPs and RNs the Same?

We can’t talk about what it means to be a nurse practitioner without talking about what it means to be a registered nurse, or RN. Although NPs have advanced skills and knowledge compared to RNs, we provide care through a nursing lens because we are nurses first and foremost. Nurses are consistently ranked as the most trusted profession in the United States. Talk about a multi-faceted profession: nurses are not only nurturing caregivers but also educators, coordinators, advocates, and counselors.

Nurses wear many hats, and they are all informed from a health and medical perspective. As a nurse practitioner, I have the unique perspective of a career as an RN combined with the advanced assessment skills and clinical knowledge required to be a medical provider. It’s this combination of a wealth of nursing experience and a patient-focused perspective that drives me as an NP to ensure each patient receives high-quality, equitable, person-centered healthcare.

As I approach my one-year anniversary as part of the Arboretum Gynecology family, I’m honored to have had the opportunity to meet so many of our long-time patients as well as greet many new ones. My favorite part of my role as an NP is connecting with patients. Partnering is my jam. I want to know who YOU are and how your health or health concerns impact your life. If you are looking for a comprehensive perspective on your individualized healthcare, come see me!