The first line of support that you receive at your GP office, whether you telephone or are at the front desk, is with the doctor’s assistant. (S)he will assist you in making an appointment with the GP or another professional at the practice. The GP’s assistant is a medical professional and has an obligation of confidentiality – just like the GP itself.
A doctor’s assistant is professionally trained to provide advice on a wide variety of ailments and illnesses and is able to discuss lab or test results with the patient. They are fully qualified and trained to provide a variety of treatments and tests for patients both independently and under the doctor’s orders. For example: treatments that they can provide include- Pap smears, urine tests, blood pressure checks, injections, glucose testing and removal of ear wax. Under the direction of the GP they are trained to do- EKG testing, visual exams, remove stitches, treat wounds and warts, and many other treatments and tests that the doctor recommends.
The role of the nurse practitioner (‘Praktijkondersteuner – POH’) includes many tasks including medical and nursing work, in close consultation with the GP. The care of the nurse practitioner is particularly focused on chronic patients, such as diabetics, people with a heart disease or COPD and elderly (‘POH-Ouderen’). There are also nurse practitioners who have specialized in mental health care (‘POH-GGZ’).