This article describes a study of the nature of consultation requests made to a physician consultant by nurse practitioners in an urban university-affiliated ambulatory nursing practice. During a 50-week period, 1,504 client encounters resulted in 225 consultations, an average consultation rate of 15 percent. The types of consultation requests, the medical specialty to which the content of the request related and the outcomes of the consultations were recorded in a consultation log. Knowledge of the pattern and nature of consultation needs has multiple benefits. Careful study of practice needs may assist in determining the qualifications of a prospective consultant and the amount of time required for on-site consultation. Such a study may provide insight into the types of problems seen in the practice and identify areas of need for continuing education and protocol development. The consultation process enhances continuity of care, while knowledge of practice needs for consultation may lead to more efficient, cost-effective health care.
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