Growing health trend bypasses doctors' offices for diagnosis, treatment

HOUSTON – You're sick, missing work and sitting for hours in a doctor's office waiting room. Or maybe you're trying to see a doctor about a chronic condition. Not Daisy Newhook. She knows when she needs to see a medical professional. There's no need to wait.

Newhook joined a growing health care trend by visiting a nurse practitioner's clinic for diagnosis and treatment.

“She makes me comfortable. It's always quick and fast," Newhook said. "I never have to wait long."

Delmar Imperial Aubin, the president of Houston Area Nurse Practitioners, said nurse practitioners put special emphasis on educating patients about their conditions.

“A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse who has had advanced training, three additional years to get a masters, you can also have your doctorate, and you're prepared to diagnose, treat and prescribe,” Aubin said. “When a patient leaves our practice, I hope that they have the right skill set, the right knowledge and the right attitude, so they can cope with their chronic disease."

Newhook is a regular patient at Rela Neely's clinic.

“They just call and see me the exact same day, and that goes back to the ease of accessibility," Newhook said.

Neely treats colds, flu and strep throat, as well as providing vaccines and sports physicals. Neely's clinic also treats chronic conditions in which patients require a treatment plan.

“(We treat) high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, thyroid, skin conditions,” Neely said.

A nurse practitioner will typically collaborate with a physician to handle more complicated cases, and refer patients for additional treatment if they can't handle the case alone.

“If I feel there's something that's out of my scope, I can readily get on the phone with my collaborating physician and take care of it,” Neely said.

Nurse practitioner clinics take insurance, and patients are billed just like at a doctor's office.