Your Asthma Healthcare Team
When you have asthma, you’ll have a team to help you manage your condition. Together,
you’ll create your asthma action plan. You may see several healthcare providers every
year who help keep you healthy. Your asthma healthcare team may include the following
Primary healthcare provider
This is the person you see for most healthcare visits. This includes yearly checkups
and general care. He or she may be one of these:
Family practice doctor. This provider has a medical degree and has special training in family practice. He
or she is board certified.
Internist. This provider has a medical degree and has special training in internal medicine.
He or she is board certified.
Nurse practitioner. This provider is an advanced practice registered nurse. He or she is trained to give
health care under the direction of a medical doctor. He or she has a master's degree
and has passed a national exam to become board certified. This provider can do many
things a medical doctor can, such as give you an exam and write prescriptions.
Physician’s assistant. This provider is trained to give health care under the direction of a medical doctor
or doctor of osteopathic medicine. He or she has a master's degree and has passed
a national exam to become board certified. This provider can do many things a medical
doctor can, such as give you an exam and write prescriptions.
You’ll see your primary healthcare provider most of the time. But he or she may refer
you to a specialist if your asthma is not under control. This may be a referral to
a pulmonologist. Or you may see an allergist.
This is a type of doctor who treats diseases of the airways and lungs. Your primary
healthcare provider may refer you to a pulmonologist to help get your asthma under
control. A pulmonologist has a medical degree in internal medicine. He or she also
got 2 to 3 years of extra training in the respiratory system. This provider should
be board certified in internal medicine. He or she must also pass an exam for pulmonology.
An allergist is also known as an immunologist. This type of doctor has extra training
in treating asthma and allergies. Your primary healthcare provider may refer you to
an allergist to help get your asthma under control. An allergist has a medical degree in
internal medicine. He or she also got 2 more years of extra training in the immune
system. This provider should be board certified in internal medicine. He or she must
also pass an exam for allergy and immunology.
These are healthcare providers who work with others on your healthcare team. A nurse
Nurses can get special training to become certain types of nurses. These types include
advanced practice registered nurse, nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, and pulmonary
nurse practitioner. The types also include clinical nurse specialists such as asthma
nurse specialist and respiratory nurse specialist. Each role requires different levels
of education and training. The duties are also different. Nurses must be licensed
to practice in your state.
This healthcare provider works in a drugstore. He or she is trained in dispensing
and advising about how to use medicines safely. A pharmacist knows which medicines
interact with one another. This includes prescription and non-prescription medicines.
He or she can also give advice about medicine side effects. A pharmacist has a doctor
of pharmacy degree and is licensed by your state’s board of pharmacy.
This is a person who is trained in the best ways to do safe exercises. This provider
can also design a fitness or exercise program for you. Exercise is important to stay
healthy, but it can trigger asthma for some people. You may want to see this kind
of provider to help you learn safe ways to exercise with asthma. An exercise physiologist
has a master’s in exercise physiology. He or she may also be certified by the American
College of Sports Medicine.
Mental healthcare provider
Emotional stress can trigger asthma for some people. Coping with a chronic condition
like asthma can cause stress for both you and your family. A mental healthcare provider
can help you and your family manage emotional stress. A number of different providers
can give this care. A licensed clinical social worker has a master’s degree in social
work and has passed a state exam. A psychologist has a master’s degree or doctorate in
psychology. A psychiatrist has a medical degree. A marriage and family therapist has
a master’s degree or doctorate in a mental health subject. All of these providers
can help with personal coping as well as family emotional health. They will likely
have training in individual, group, or family therapy. A social worker can also get
you help with financial needs, training programs, and other resources. A psychiatrist
can also prescribe medicine. A psychologist may be trained in other methods, such
as cognitive behavioral therapy. This is therapy that helps a person change negative
thoughts and actions.
Choosing asthma healthcare providers
Make sure your healthcare team members are board certified or licensed for their specialty.
This means they have the special training and approval of an official group. Questions
to ask a new provider may include:
Do you have any special training for treating asthma?
How many of your patients have asthma?
How often will I have tests?
Do you accept my insurance plan? What are your billing policies?
Will you send reports or records to my other healthcare providers as needed?
Working with your healthcare team
You are part of your healthcare team, too. Make sure to:
Stick to your asthma action plan. Work with your healthcare providers to create this plan. It should include how to
prevent symptoms and what to do if you have an asthma attack.
Use your medicines. You may have maintenance medicine. And you may have rescue medicine. Make sure to
use these exactly as your healthcare provider tells you to. Talk with a nurse or your
pharmacist if you need help using your medicines.
Keep track of your symptoms. Make note of your asthma triggers. This can help you and your care providers manage
See your healthcare provider. Go to regular checkups. Make an appointment if you’re having trouble controlling