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Discipline Practice Roles/ Skills Education/Training Licensure/Credentials
Nurse Licensed vocational nurse (LVN)- Basic nursing skills thatare dictated by the facility; and under the supervision of aregistered nurse (RN) -associate degree, BS or higher. RN has increased scope of practice, including planning for optimal functioning, coordination of care, teaching, and direct and indirect patient care. LVN- 1 year of training; RN with associate degree-2years of training, usually in acommunity colleges; BS, RN-4 years in college: MS/MA,RN-2 years of graduate specialty study; PhD/DNSc/EdD. RN- 3 to 4 years of doctoral studies. LVN - exam required for licensing, CE requirements in some states. RN- can be RN; BS, RN; APN; MS, GNP orother specialty RNs; PhD RN: all must pass the national licensure exam and in somes tates are required to have a prescribed number of CEUs per year.
Nurse Practitioner Health assessment, health promotion, histories and physicals in outpatient and acute/home/long-term care settings; order, conduct, and interpret lab and diagnostic tests; prescribe medications, teaching and counseling. Master's degree with adefined specialty area such as gerontology(GPN) or a post-master’s certificate program. In addition to RN licensure, NPs pass a National Certification Exam in theappropriate specialty area (e.g. gerontology or family practice).
Physician Physicians perform histories, physical examinations, and diagnostic testing which allows them to formulate assessments and therapeutic plans. They also provide various therapeutic interventions. Baccalaureate degree + 4 years medical school. 3 to 7 years of residency training after the MD degree and passing exams are required for Board Certification. Licensure as DO (osteopathic) or MD (allopathic) requires 1 year of supervised training as a resident and passing COMLEX (Osteopathic) or USMLE (Allopathic) exam steps 1 through 3.
Primary Care Physicians Specialties of General Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, Pediatrics, & OB/GYN. Commonly provide broad based care that emphasizes prevention, disease identification and treatment, & chronic illness management. Baccalaureate degree + 4 years medical school. 3 to 5 years of residency training after the MD degree. Residency which ranges from 3-4 years which leads to Board Certification upon completion of residency and passing of the specialty board examination.
Specialist Physicians Physicians who focus in depth on diseases and treatments of specific organ systems such as heart, GI, or nervous system. Can also be procedurally based such as surgeons or anesthesiologists. Baccalaureate degree + 4 years medical school. 4 to 7 years of residency training after the MD degree./td> Residency in a specialty and often a subspecialty. Training ranges from 4-7 years leading to Board Certification, and often, subspecialty certification.
Physician Assistant Practice medicine with the supervision of licensed physicians; exercise autonomy in medical decision-making and provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services; practice is centered onpatient care. Specially designed 2-year PA program located atmedical colleges and universities. Most have bachelor's degree and over 4 years of health care experience before entering a PA program. State licensure or registration plus certification by NCCPA. Re-certification every 6 years by examination. Requires 100 hours of CME every 2 years.
Geriatrician Physician with special training in the diagnoses, treatment, and prevention of disorders in older people; recognizes aging as a normal process and not a disease. Completion of medical school, residency training infamily medicine and internal medicine, and 1-year fellowship program in geriatric medicine. Completion of fellowship training program and/orpassing examination for Certificate of Added Qualifications in Geriatric Medicine. (CAQ). Recertifications by examination required every 6 years.
Social Worker Assessment of individual and family psychosocial functioning and provision of care to help enhance or restore capacities; this can include locating services or providing counseling. There is a 4-year college degree (BSW); 2 years of graduate work (MSW), and doctoral degree (PhD); 15 hours of continuing education is required every year. The LMSW (for master's level); LSW (BS level); SWAis a social work associate with a combination of education and experience. ACP- signifies licensure for independent clinical practice. After obtaining MSW, may take the state licensing examination and, if successful, is recognized as certified social worker (CSW).
Psychologist Assessment, treatment, and management of mental disorders; psychotherapy with individuals, groups, and families. Graduate training consists of 5 years beyond undergraduate training; most course workincludes gerontology and clinical experience. PhD Or EdD or PsyD are degrees awarded. State licensure; the American Psychological Associationhas ethics codes as do most states.
Psychiatrist Medical doctors who identify and treat patients’ mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. Medical degree and residency in psychiatry. Residency may include both general residency training and 2 years in a specific area of psychiatry (e.g. pediatrics). Subspecialties are also provided in many areas such as Geriatric or Addiction psychiatry. Completion of residency provides eligibility for Board of Psychiatry and Neurology offers exam for diplomat in psychiatry.
Pharmacist Devise and revise a patient’s medication therapy to achieve the optimal regime that suits the individual’s medical and therapeutic needs; information resource for the patient and medical team. Pharmacists can receive a baccalaureate (B.S.) – 5-year program; or doctorate degree (PharmD). Annual CEUs required range from 10-15 hours. National exam (NABPLEX); given every quarter; board certifications in specialties available (pharmacotherapy, nuclear pharmacy, nutrition, psychiatric and oncology in near future).
Speech-Language Pathologist Assessment and treatment of full range of speech, language, and swallowing disorders; functions within ambulatory or inpatient clinical settings; provides individual or group therapy to maximize individual’s functional communication and swallowing ability. Masters Degree and completion of 9 month Clinical Fellowship Year(CFY) post-M.A. /M.S.required to practice nationwide. Annual CEU’s required. CCC-SLP (Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech Language Pathology) awarded by American Speech Language Hearing Association following completion of National Examination (NESPA) and CFY. State licensure requiredin 45 states.
Audiologist Identification, assessment, and management of auditory and balance disorders; audiological rehabilitation; selection, fitting, and dispensing of amplification systems; consumer education. Masters Degree andcompletion of 9 month Clinical Fellowship Year (CFY) post-M.A. /M.S.required to practice nationwide. Annual CEU’s required. CCC-A (Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology) awarded by American Speech Language Hearing Association following completion of National Examination (NESPA) and CFY. State licensure required in 47 states.
Occupational Therapist Facilitate engagement in everyday life skills which includes basic activities of daily living (ADL) such as bathing, dressing and eating, instrumental ADL such as cooking, money management and driving, and school, work and leisure engagement. Interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, helping people recovering from injury to regain skills, and providing supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes. Services may include comprehensive evaluations of the client’s home and other environments (e.g., workplace, school), recommendations for adaptive equipment and training in its use, and guidance and education for family members and caregivers. Baccalaureate degree + masters in OT. Moving toward requiring doctorate. Master’s degree or higher + must pass a national certifying exam and state licensure requirements. To maintain a current license, 20 hours of continuing education every 2 years is required in Oklahoma and/or 36 hours every 3 years on the national level.

Post-licensing board certification programs allow specialization in gerontology, mental health, pediatrics and physical rehabilitation with specialty certification in driving and community mobility, environmental modification, feeding, eating, swallowing, and low vision.
Physical Therapist The evaluation, examination, and utilization of exercises, rehabilitative procedures, massage, manipulations, andphysical agents including, but not limited to, mechanical devices, heat, cold, air, light, water, electricity, and sound in the aid of diagnosis or treatment. Four-year college degree in physical therapy is required to be eligible for the state exam; master’s degree in physical therapy is available; 3 CEUs every 2 years are required. PT is the credential that isused by licensed physical therapists and PTA is the credential for licensed physical therapist assistant. To use either of these titles, one must pass a state exam. CEUs are required for both; titles and licenses must be renewed biennially.
Chaplain Provide visits and ministry topatients and family. Master’s degree in theology, plus a minimum of 1 year of clinical supervision, if fully certified. Can work in some settings without being fully certified. Certification is through the Chaplaincy Board of Certification – credentials for this are BCC; however, credentials are not normally used. Most chaplains are ordained ministers, but not all. CEUs required are 50 hours per year.
Dietitian Evaluate the nutritional status of patients; work with family members and medical team to determine appropriate nutrition goals for patient. BS degree in food and nutrition and experience are required to be eligible for exam; CEs are required for both the LD (6 clockhours/year) and RD (75 clockhours year every 5 years); MS degree is available also. RD is the credential for a registered dietitian. For RD, must pass the national exam of the American Dietetic Association; LD is the credential for a licensed dietitian; same exam is required but processing of paperwork/fees is different.
Practice Management Staff Office Support Staff Schedules and registers patient appointments, prioritizing each patient according to the acuity and seriousness of the chief complaint. Responsible for billing private insurance, self pay, Medicare, or Medicaid. In addition, answer phones and direct calls, pull charts for the day and file tem, sort through mail and faxes. May or may not have a degree, but must have a high school diploma or GED certificate. Experienced incustomer service, with a working knowledge of office procedures and office skills.
Client/Patient Consumer Provide information necessary for assessment planning of care. Bring their needs and perspectives on illness, treatment and what they view as the major goals of care. Care goals must be endorsed by the client/patient in order to achieve successful adherence to a therapeutic plan. Illness - Cognitive status –Important to remember that while global decision-makingmay be diminished; capacity in specific areas can be retained. While unable to manage financial matters, may retain ability to determine end-of-life decisions.
Family caregiver Spouse/Children Consumer
Advocate for client
Provider of direct care
Provide a wealth of information regarding the client/patient - pre-illness functioning, hobbies, interests, and concerns. Offers direct input about ability and willingness to assist in care. May not have detailed knowledge of disease process or the roles and function of the professionals on the team. May not live close to the client. Family history and/or dynamics may interfere with knowledge of client and ability to participate.
Caregiver outside family/Neighbor/Friend Advocate for Client
Provide direct care for client
Provide information regarding the client/patient -pre-illness functioning, hobbies, interests, and concerns. Offers direct input about ability and willingness to assist in care. May not be identified.

Adapted from:  Texas AHEC (2016).  Interdisciplinary team - Team members overview.  Retrieved from

Wisdom, P. (2016). Physician, physicians who provide primary care and specialist physician roles. (Unpublished paper). University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City.