Greater Peoria Metro Area, IL

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Why Do I See an APN Instead of My Doctor?


Submitted by Illinois CancerCare

While it can be tempting to seek care from someone with the title “Doctor,” Advanced Practice Nurses, commonly referred to as APNs, are equally skilled and knowledgeable in their field. While APNs are not a replacement for doctors, they are highly-educated and trained to work closely with your physician to develop and deliver the optimum treatment plan for your needs. Serving as your advocate and a knowledgeable care provider, studies show that patients are generally extremely satisfied with the relationship they have with their APN.

Services Provided by APNs
APNs combine their skills as compassionate and skilled nurses with an advanced education that enables them to provide an additional layer of care. They don’t replace your doctor—they work with your doctor.

Depending on your APN’s specific qualifications, he or she may provide services that are a hybrid of what a nurse and physician typically deliver, including:

  • Taking your medical history
  • Performing exams
  • Ordering and reviewing lab work
  • Ordering and evaluating diagnostic tests
  • Prescribing medications and other treatments
  • Treating and monitoring your health during the treatment process
  • Answering questions you and your family may have
  • Providing education and disease counseling
  • Serving as a liaison with other healthcare providers (your doctor, nurses, medical technicians, pharmacists, hospital personnel, and others involved in your treatment)
  • Addressing cancer prevention and screening
  • Discussing personal issues related to treatment and recovery
  • Discussing advanced care planning
  • Performing bone marrow biopsies

You may be wondering about an APN’s training, expertise, and qualifications.

An Advanced Practice Nurse is a registered nurse who also holds a master’s or doctorate degree in nursing. They have also completed clinical requirements to ensure that they have the academic and hands-on ability to deliver a superior level of patient care. APNs (like other medical providers) are board-certified and required to be licensed by the state in which they live.

The Benefits of APN Integration
So, why are APNs sometimes coordinated into your treatment plan? Here are just a few reasons:

  • The U.S. population is aging and living longer, which means that more patients are being diagnosed with cancer and other diseases. Since the Baby Boomers are a large population, this puts further stress on the healthcare delivery system.
  • Because APNs can provide a large number of services that physicians deliver, patients are able to be seen more frequently (or sooner), rather than facing a bottleneck that slows down patient access to care.
  • In addition to treating patients, many physicians—such as those at Illinois CancerCare—spend time researching diseases and testing potential treatment options. Allowing them to have more time to conduct clinical trials can lead to more successful treatments for today’s patients, as well as future generations.

For more information on how Illinois CancerCare APNs partner with specialized physicians to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer patients in central Illinois, please call 309-243-3437 or visit our website at