Aug 11, 2021 10:00 AM

Read time: 4 minutes


Two APCs talking to each other

Advanced practice clinicians (APCs) are essential to the environment at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI). During the COVID-19 pandemic, they demonstrated just how critical their roles truly are, providing high-quality care to patients while juggling their duties as providers, researchers, and educators.

Brighton Loveday, MSN, ANP-BC, APRN, is a nurse practitioner in the Supportive Oncology and Survivorship program at HCI. She became a registered nurse in 1992, a nurse practitioner in 2011, and became director of advanced practice clinicians at HCI in 2019.

“Being an APC now seems like a natural progression as a caregiver,” Loveday says. “We take care of patients for so long that we want to now direct that care. We work in collaboration with care teams and that’s what makes it special.”

What is an APC?

All APCs hold postgraduate degrees and are board-certified in their practice areas. At HCI, APCs are important members of the patient care team. They work closely with HCI doctors to help provide these services for patients:

  • Conduct health histories and physical exams
  • Diagnose and treat illnesses
  • Prescribe medicines
  • Order and interpret lab tests

What are some types of APCs?

There are many different types of APCs. An APC can be any of the following:

  • Advanced practice registered nurse (APRN)
  • Certified nurse practitioner (CNP)
  • Clinical nurse specialist (CNS)
  • Certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA)
  • Certified nurse midwife (CNM)
  • Physician assistant (PA)

APRNs have postgraduate education and training, and a national certification. They work alongside physicians and are often primary care providers diagnosing and treating patients, providing preventive care services to the public, and helping them manage their health.  

CNPs have years of experience working as nurses. Some work in a primary care capacity and others work in specialties such as pediatrics, women’s health, or oncology. They have autonomy to evaluate patients, create treatment plans, and prescribe medications.

A CNS is certified in a specialty of choice, such as adult health, adult gerontology, pediatrics, or psychiatric mental health. A CRNA is an APRN certified in anesthesia and a CNM is an APRN who specializes in women’s reproductive health, childbirth, and preventive women’s health maintenance.

PAs are required to work with a supervising physician, but they see patients, conduct physical exams, offer diagnoses, and prescribe medicine like a doctor. They may serve as a principal health care provider. They receive a master’s in physician assistant studies and are required to pass a national certification exam.

Why are APCs important to patients?

APCs improve access to care because physicians are sometimes not available. They allow more patients to be seen by a qualified medical professional. This decreases lag time between patient visits and decreases physician burnout.

APCs improve outcomes by administering treatments sooner. Data shows there is no significant difference in outcomes of patients seen by APCs or doctors. They are clinically competent and capable of seeing patients.

APCs have more time. This allows them to talk directly with patients, which creates a better personal experience for the patients. This one-on-one time is vital for educating the patient and answering their questions.

If a patient still has a concern, they should not be afraid because APCs work directly with MDs. They can manage patients well because they are part of a care team. Also, the APC will consult a physician when needed.

What types of HCI clinics involve APCs?

APCs work with everyone from medical oncology to hematology to bone marrow transplant teams.

There are also a number of independent clinics. They range from sexual health and wellness to geriatric oncology. Some clinics are specifically run by APCs, including ones for symptom management and palliative care. There is an undiagnosed cancer clinic for patients who have cancer but don’t yet know what type.

There are cancer survivorship clinics run by APCs. The Acute Care Clinic allows patients to be evaluated by an APC.

Huntsman at HomeTM is staffed by APCs. Data shows that this program reduces the number of emergency room visits and number of readmissions, while improving the patient’s quality of life in the home. Huntsman at Home is currently expanding to more rural areas, which will result in a staff expansion.

What are some APC opportunities at HCI?

There are roughly 125 APCs at HCI, not counting CRNAs. That number will grow due to the new Kathryn F. Kirk Center for Comprehensive Cancer Care and Women’s Cancers. Its completion will expand the total number of APCs employed due to an increase in inpatient beds and other services. To become a valued member of a dynamic team on the frontline of patient care, check the HCI job site in the next few months for those openings.

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