Diabetes Alaska



What do all those letters mean?

What are those letters behind their names?

M.D. - Medical Doctor

D.O. - Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine

F.A.C.P. - Fellow of the American College of Physician

Fellowship is a mark of distinction. It is an honorary designation given to recognize physicians who continue with ongoing individual service and contributions to the practice of medicine. In addition, your doctor has been recognized by other physicians for excellence and skill in medical practice, teaching and research. They are frequently referred to as "the doctor's doctor".

Medical Doctors and Doctors of Osteopathy are comparable in their training & licenses:

  • Both are licensed to perform surgery and prescribe medicine.
  • They complete 4 years of medical education from an accredited medical school.
  • Following medical school, they can choose to practice in primary care or a specialty area of medicine after completing a residency program and/or a fellowship.
  • Both must pass state licensing examinations.
  • Both have privileges and can practice in fully accredited, licensed hospitals and medical centers.

What do the initials after a mid-level provider's name mean?

PA-C - Physician Assistant - Certified

ANP-C - Adult Nurse Practitioner - Certified

FNP-C - Family Nurse Practitioner - Certified

I have an appointment with an extender/mid-level provider - who/what is that?

Physician extender and mid-level provider are terms used to apply to advanced trained professionals who are physician assistants or nurse practitioners. They offer high quality, cost effective health care through a team approach by collaborating with physicians. They obtain medical histories and conduct physical examinations. They are trained to assess the health status of a patient, deliver preventive care, counsel patients on psychosocial and health problems, diagnose and treat acute illnesses, and manage chronic illnesses.

Why am I seeing a mid-level provider?

Mid-level providers or Physician Extenders are licensed professionals who work in conjuction with the physicians to provide care on a timely basis, improve patient access, assist with patient care follow-up and provide patient education.

Mid-level providers are supervised by a physician. This means all services are rendered under a physician's supervision and control. Preferably, at the Diabetes and Lipid Clinic of Alaska, every other visit should be with a physician in our office.

What is the difference between a nurse practitioner (NP) and a physician assistant (PA)?

Nurse practitioners (NP) are registered nurses with advanced education, usually at the master's level, and the clinical competency necessary for the practice of medicine. The State Boards of Nursing regulate nurse practitioners (NP) and each state has its own licensing and certification criteria.

A physician assistant (PA) is licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. Training spans at least two years after college also with advanced education, usually at the master's level, and the clinical competency necessary for medical practice. Physician Assistants (PA's) are required to pass a national certifying examination developed by the National Board of Medical Examiners.

The difference between physician assistants (PA) and nurse practitioners (NP) is a gray area. The difference is often described in terms of supervision. Physician assistants (PA) are licensed to practice with the supervision of a physician, while nurse practitioners (NP) may practice independently, depending on individual state laws. In Alaska, they can practice independently without physician supervision. At the Diabetes and Lipid Clinic of Alaska, Dr. Tanner equally supervises the mid –level providers and makes no distinction between a P.A. or A.N.P.

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