Nurse Practitioner Vs Physician Assistant

Nurse Practitioner Vs Physician Assistant


Becoming a Nurse Practitioner VS Physician Assistant

If you’re still wondering what are the similarities and differences between an NP and a PA, then allow me to share with you what I’ve learned.

Today’s healthcare profession is so complex and so in-demand that it’s not enough for doctors to handle all the patients and autonomy in a healthcare setting.

We are very fortunate today because we can easily choose to become a healthcare professional with the legal capability to work closely with our patients, provide diagnosis, treatment and care without becoming a physician.

There are 2 healthcare professions wherein you can do just that, Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants.

If you’re not familiar with Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants, you can easily mistake them for the other.

It is primarily because they almost perform the same duties and responsibilities. Here’s a list of the things they commonly do.

1. Taking care of the patient’s history

2. Performing Physical Examinations

3. Requesting Labotory Tests and Procedures

4. Ordering Xrays, CT-Scans, etc.

5. Diagnosing patients

6. Performing treatment

7. Providing evaluation and routine care

To the normal patient, it’s hard to know who is the physician, physician assistant, nurse practitioner without looking at their name tags.

It seems that the main difference between the two is on their training and background.

Let me talk about the training and background of Nurse practitioners first.

NP or Nurse Practitioners are obviously registered Nurses. Meaning they’ve graduated and studied nursing, then passed the licensure exam to become registered nurses. In order to be accepted to a Nursing Practitioner program, most require 10 years of nursing experience and a master’s degree. IN short, Nurse Practitioners have the skill, experience and knowledge before they can even apply for the program.

Physician Assistants on the other hand usually have a bachelor’s degree related to the health sciences (biology, nursing, medical technologist, pharmacist, etc) and they would complete about 27 months of Physician assistant program.

But Physician Assistant’s are trained using the same methods for medical students. So their educational background is the same as medical students.

The biggest difference between Nurse Practitioners vs Physician Assistant lies in the autonomy and “independence” on how they perform their jobs.

A nurse practitioner, can diagnose, treat, and evaluate a patient as long as it’s within the scope of the state regulation, while the Physician Assistant will only be able to perform his or her responsibilities, based on what his supervising physician delegates. Because for Physician assistants, his supervising physician will always have the final call.

As a Physician Assistant, you must remember that you are always technically under the direction of the licensed doctor. Which is not entirely bad, because you share responsibilities with your supervising doctor.

Both professions are integral part of a healthcare team.

The physician assistant cannot have their own practice while Nurse practitioners can have their own or choose to work in cooperation with others.

If you’re already a nurse with at least 10 years of experience, then you’ll probably want to consider pursuing Nurse Practitioning. If you would like to have more autonomy and independence, being a doctor or Nurse practitioner would probably be your best route.

The Scope of Practice for Physician Assistant’s will always be limited to what the supervising physician delegates, but it also removes a lot of responsibility on your shoulder. And if you already have a bachelors degree in the health sciences, (or you can take some subjects in college), you can become a physician assistant after completing an accredited program in just 27 months.

That definitely beats the 10 year requirement of professional experience for Nursing Practitioners.

No wonder, the BLS has projected the huge growth and demand for Physician Assistant up to the year 2020.

If you would like to become a Physician Assistant, read my post onĀ how to apply for Physician Assistant Programs.



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