GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The fourth week of September is National Advanced Practice Provider Week, which aims to recognize the contributions of these health professionals.

Heather LaVigne, community response nurse practitioner with Corewell Health, told News 8 that APPs are a group of professionals “who have high-level licensure (and) have gone to school for a longer period of time.”

Some well-known examples of APPs include nurse practitioners, physician assistants and nurse midwives.

With the physician shortage nationwide, LaVigne said APPs have taken on an even more important role.

“APPs are really the people that get to fill the gap there, and really bridge the gap for patients who don’t have access to a physician necessarily,” she said. “We still collaborate with a physician, absolutely. But we are able to access that patient a lot sooner in a visit than, unfortunately, the physicians can, just due to that shortage.”

More information about National APP Week is available online.