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Leveling Up

How Mid-Level Practitioners participate in a Team-Based Approach to Pain Management
– By Lucey Wright, M.S.

Suzanne Lancaster’s interest in nursing started young, as a little girl growing up in a small town near Monroe, Louisiana. “I knew I wanted to go into a profession that helped people. My mother encouraged me and my sister to go into the healthcare field. She would take me and my sister to see our grandparents when they were in the hospital and I remember watching all the nurses.”

Many years of training at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and Louisiana State University Health Science Center in New Orleans later, Suzanne is practicing as a Nurse Practitioner with Louisiana Pain Specialists. “Apparently my mother’s encouragement worked, because both my sister and I are Nurse Practitioners!”

After practicing in critical care, step down, pre-op, and post-op nursing, Suzanne met Dr. Tarun Jolly, the founder of Louisiana Pain Specialists and Christi Plaisance, the lead Mid-Level Practitioner. “I never thought that I would work in pain management, but after talking to Dr. Jolly and Christi, I knew it would be a great opportunity to work with a special patient population.” She started with the practice in July 2012. “It is completely different than any other position I have held. Pain is something that a lot of other health care providers either do not know how to manage properly or defer to someone else. It is challenging at times, but also very rewarding.”

As a Nurse Practitioner, Suzanne is one of the special group of healthcare providers at Louisiana Pain Specialists called Mid-Level Practitioners, or simply Mid-Levels. The term Mid-Level includes both Physician Assistants (PAs) and Nurse Practitioners (NPs). They are fully licensed and qualified providers who administer care and treatment while working under the supervision of a physician. They assist the physician in the initial assessment of patients and in formulating a treatment plan, order tests, write prescriptions, prepare reports for referring physicians, and carry out follow-up visits for medication management and after implants and procedures.

One of the practice’s physicians, Dr. Satvik Munshi explains. “At Louisiana Pain Specialists, our Mid-Levels play an integral role in providing comprehensive pain care to our patients. I work very closely together with the Mid-Levels to establish an accurate working diagnosis and develop a plan of care. We use a balanced approach with appropriate medications as well as interventions.”

Studies indicate that Mid-Levels can improve patient access to healthcare as well as the level of overall satisfaction. One review of 16 studies presented in the Berkeley HealthCare Forum reports that “no significant differences in patient satisfaction were found between NPs and PAs versus physicians.”

Louisiana Pain Specialists patient John Merrick agrees, “The Mid-Levels are fantastic. The number one factor is their personality. They take time with you, and when you have a problem, it’s like they have the problem, too. When you walk in, you feel at home.”

In her almost two years with Louisiana Pain Specialists, Suzanne has gained a deep understanding of pain management and found it is a good fit for her. “I love the clinical setting and the one-on-one patient care I get to give.”

Dr. Munshi agrees that Suzanne is a great fit for pain management and Louisiana Pain Specialists’ team-based approach. “Suzanne is one of the very best Mid-Levels that I’ve had the privilege to work with! She and all of our Mid-Levels are dedicated to helping our patients get back to living a more functional, productive, and pain free life.”

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