Definitions of Health Care Provider Credentials

The following descriptions provide general definitions for the many different credentials of our health care team.

MD = Doctor of Medicine

An MD is commonly referred to as a physician or doctor. A MD has a doctoral degree for physicians awarded by accredited medical schools. A MD works to maintain or restore human health through the study, diagnosis and treatment of disease or injury.

DO = Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine

A DO belongs to a separate, but equal, branch of medicine as a MD. A DO takes in account the musculoskeletal system, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health of a patient, and how each aspect could contribute to illness.

MBBS or MBBCh = Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Science

Professional degrees awarded in medicine and surgery by universities in foreign countries and are equivalent to an MD degree.

PhD = Doctor of Philosophy

This advanced academic degree is awarded for submitting a thesis or dissertation of original academic research for publication.

DNP = Doctor of Nursing Practice

A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) can diagnose and treat a wide range of health problems and care for people with complex, chronic conditions – similar to a physician. DNPs focus on health promotion, disease prevention, health education and counseling. They help patients make wise health and lifestyle choices. DNPs are nationally certified and have advanced education and training beyond their registered nurse and nurse practitioner preparation.

Advanced practice providers (NP and PA) work under the supervision of a physician, yet independently, to provide some of the same care provided by physicians. In many primary care settings, they serve as the patient's regular health care provider.

Certified Nurse Practitioner (CNP)

A certified nurse practitioner (CNP) is a registered nurse (RN) who has completed advanced education (a minimum of a master's degree) and training in the diagnosis and management of common medical conditions. An CNP’s training focuses on prevention, wellness and patient education.

Certified Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (CNNP)

A nurse practitioner with specialized training in caring for neonatal patients (newborns).

Physician Assistant (PA)

A PA is a licensed health care provider who can provide a broad range of health care services that are traditionally performed by a physician, such as conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive health care, assist in surgery and write prescriptions.

Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)

An advanced practice nurse, with a master's or doctorate degree. CNS is a clinical expert in diagnosing and treating illness, and delivering evidence-based nursing interventions.

Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)

Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) are registered nurses with specialized training in assisting pregnant women. CNMs must complete an accredited program of study and clinical experience in obstetrical care. CNMs often provide Pap smears, breast examinations, prenatal care, evaluations and education.