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MD, DO, NP, PA, MA – different providers, one team

Learn more about those two letters after our providers’ names

By Amy Mulcaster, DO, gynecologist and chief medical officer of The Portland Clinic.

At The Portland Clinic, many of our care teams have expanded beyond MDs and DOs to include NPs, PAs and MAs. That’s a lot of acronyms, but they all fit together to create a smooth, seamless care experience.

Here’s a brief explanation of the providers in front of the acronyms, and how you might encounter them in the course of your care.

MD (medical doctor)

MDs are fully licensed physicians with the certification and training to prescribe medications and to perform surgical procedures. MDs can be primary care providers or specialists, such as cardiologists, gastroenterologists, urologists, etc.

DO (doctor of osteopathy)

Like MDs, DOs are fully licensed physicians who are certified and trained to prescribe medications and to perform surgical procedures. They receive all the same training as MDs — the only difference is that DOs also are trained in osteopathic manipulative treatments. At The Portland Clinic, DOs and MDs perform all the same functions, whether they are primary care providers or specialists. You can learn more in our 2020 blog: MD or DO: What’s the difference?

NP (nurse practitioner)

If you are looking for a primary care provider at The Portland Clinic, you can choose an MD, a DO or an NP. Our NPs are highly trained licensed professionals who function very similarly to MDs and DOs, providing all-encompassing care for their patients.

Nurse practitioners complete master’s or doctoral degrees and advanced clinical training beyond their registered nurse (RN) training. They diagnose and treat acute and chronic conditions, order and interpret tests, prescribe medications, and coordinate referrals when more specialized care is needed. They also provide education and guidance about how to prevent problems and maintain your best health. With their extensive nursing backgrounds, NPs tend to be very nurturing by nature.

Nearly all of our NPs can be chosen as primary care providers. The exception (noted on the provider’s profile) is our same-day NP who works with one group to address urgent concerns when your regular NP can’t see you right away.

PA (physician assistant)

You won’t find physician assistants in every branch of The Portland Clinic, but in our Beaverton, Northeast and South clinics, they are a vital part of our medical teams. Each PA works very closely with two or three MDs and DOs to provide same-day care coverage for patients who have urgent concerns that can’t wait. Our PAs also help facilitate quick responses to patients’ emails and questions about lab results and other issues, helping to free up our physicians to spend more time providing direct patient care.

Because we rely on our PAs for same-day care in our clinics, they can’t be chosen as primary care providers. However, they do provide similar care to our NPs, including taking medical histories, diagnosing and treating illnesses, ordering tests and prescribing medications. With two years of postgraduate education and thousands of hours of training, these highly educated providers offer skilled care and support in all areas of medicine.

MA (medical assistant)

Every time you come to one of our clinics for a visit, you’ll be met by a medical assistant. Our MAs are the gateway to your provider appointments. They show you to your exam room; record your weight, blood pressure and other vitals; review your medications with you; ask about the purpose of your visit; and prepare you to see your provider. On the other side of the door, they give your provider a summary of your needs and prepare your provider to see you. During your visit, the MA also may assist during a physical exam, collect lab specimens, administer injections, explain care instructions, help with insurance forms and follow-up scheduling, and help out in a multitude of other ways.

All of our MAs have either an associate’s degree in medical assisting or several years of equivalent training and experience. Like every member of our team, they are absolutely essential.

We’re all on the same team

Within our multispecialty practice, all of these diverse professionals make up one remarkably cohesive group. Whether you see one provider or several, you can rest assured that we’re all working together to provide you with coordinated, collaborative care. As we like to say, teamwork is our specialty.

From our MDs and DOs to our NPs, PAs and MAs, every provider at The Portland Clinic is invested in the same goal: to make sure you feel well taken care of.