Summit Opens NP-Led Clinic in Karns

Nurse practitioner Brian Stanley said midlevel providers such as himself are filling a void in a changing health care landscape that has more insured patients and fewer primary care doctors to treat them.

“Nurse practitioners have been around for 50 years, but some people are still not quite sure what the difference is,” he said. “Nurse practitioners have traditionally taken a back seat role to physicians, but over time especially with shortages of physicians and the need to improve access to health care, that’s changing. This is just another way to deliver health care.”

Nurse practitioners are registered nurses with advanced education and clinical training who provide an expanded range of clinical services. Stanley is a board-certified family practice nurse practitioner with a Master of Science Degree in Nursing from East Tennessee State University and previously was with Summit’s Hospitalist Services division.

Michael Fugate, executive director of operations for Summit Medical, said this model of care has been in the works for a year, but the physicians group saw an opportunity to implement it with the retirement of Dr. Thomas Hetrick, who had served Karns.


The model focuses on a “patient-centered” approach to the overall care of patients and takes advantage of increased technology capabilities like electronic medical records and Summit’s soon-to-be-launched patient portal to make communication between nurse practitioner and supervising physician easier.

While Stanley is the lead provider at the clinic, Dr. John Carroll, a physician with Hardin Valley Medical Center, will serve as the supervisory physician for Karns, reviewing cases and providing consultation when necessary. Tennessee requires that a licensed physician supervise the practice of a nurse practitioner.

Acknowledging that some patients don’t want to be seen by a nurse practitioner, Stanley said they can effectively provide comprehensive primary care services.


“This allows me to get to know the patient better and provide a more holistic care approach,” he said. “In the hospital, you’re just treating the acute problem. Here you can manage the entire patient. You can really start from scratch especially with younger patients and help the older ones.”

The facility has been given a face-lift and Summit has long-range plans to expand the practice to include pediatrics, geriatric services and more community programs like health fairs.